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Full text of "The Basutos : or, twenty-three years in South Africa"

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THE BASUTOS 



TWENTY-THREE IEAES IN SOUTH AFRICA. 



BY THE 



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EEV. E.' CASALIS, 

LATE MISSIONARY, DIRECTOR OF THE PARIS EVANGELICAL MISSION-HOUSE. 




LONDON: 

JAMES NISBET & CO. BERNERS STREET. 

1861. 



LONDON : 

Btrangeways and Walden, Printers, 
28 Castle St. Leicester Sq. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

Introduction ......... v 

PART I. 

JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION LABOURS. 

Chaps. I.— VIII 1 

PART II. 

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE BASUTOS. 

Chap. IX. Villages — Habitations — Utensils — Domestic 

Occupations . . . . . .123 

X. Means of Existence — Property — The Chase . 153 
XI. Social and Domestic Life . . . .179 

XII. Nationality — Government .... 210 

XIII. Notions upon the Origin of Things — Eeligious 

Ideas . .237 

XIV. Amulets — Superstitious Practices . . . 270 
XV. Moral Ideas 300 

XVI. Language 313 

XVII. Intellectual Productions— Poetry ... 328 
XVIII. Enigmas and Tales 337 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



South African Mode of Travelling * . . Frontispiece. 
Moshesh (in 1833) ....... P. 15 

Antelope Euchore 31 

The Gnu 33 

Bethulie ..... ? ... 38 

A Mosuto Warrior 63 

Thaba-Bosio 81 

The Baptism of Libe 103 

A Barolong Village . . . . . . .123 

Transversal Section of a Barolong Hut . . . .126 

Hut of the Basutos . ■ . 127 

Implement for procuring a Light 129 

Boy blowing the Bellows 131 

Lance or Assagai, and Hatchet . . . ♦ . .132 

A Knife 133 

Spatulas 133 

Awls 135 

Leathern Shield 136 

TheSessiou 137 

Baskets 138 

Wooden Vessels 139 

Spoon . . . . . . . . . . 140 

Snuff-boxes and Pipe 141 

Woman grinding Corn 142 

Mosuto Woman 143 

Earthenware Vessels 146 

Playing the Tumo 149 

Personal Ornaments '.152 

Basutos Digging 163 



INTRODUCTION. 



Never has Africa excited so much interest as at the pre- 
sent time. Every one foresees that it will soon be revealed 
entirely to our view. This anticipation is not merely the 
result of the discoveries of such men as Barth and Living- 
stone ; it is connected with the great providential fact of 
our day — the desire that men feel to draw near to each 
other, to know one another, and to live a life in common. 
While Europe is preparing to converse with the New 
World through the depths of the ocean, might she not 
blush at the thought that Africa, her old companion on the 
map of the Ptolemies, is still almost unknown to her ? 

I love Europe, as we love the land of our birth, and 
Africa, as we love the land where we have lived. After 
having sojourned twenty-three years among the descend- 
ants of Ham, seeking to do them some good, I return 
to the land of my fathers, with the desire of still being 
useful to a race, the misfortunes of which have moved 
my spirit deeply, and which I believe to be, in spite of 
its debasement, as highly gifted as our own, with regard 
to the faculties of the heart and the understanding. I 
should like to do my part towards making it better 



VI INTRODUCTION. 

known. Most travellers — occupied from morning till 
night with the treasures of a fauna or a flora, rich in 
attractions of every kind — have not time to inquire 
what may be the ideas or the dreams of the black men 
who serve them as guides. That portion of the African 
continent which I, with a few friends, have had the pri- 
vilege of exploring, and of rendering accessible to Chris- 
tianity and to commerce, is not large. It does not become 
me, therefore, to inscribe my name beside, or even under- 
neath those to whom the Geographical Societies are now 
rendering such well-deserved homage. But though de- 
ficient in discoveries in the domain of science, I think I 
have penetrated pretty deeply into the groundwork of 
sentiments and ideas which compose the moral life of 
the people. My aim has been to labour assiduously at 
the religious and social regeneration of tribes of con- 
siderable importance, with which I have, in more than 
one respect, identified myself. 

The African, proud of his independence, rejects 
equally the pity which he assimilates to contempt, and 
the curiosity which he suspects. In order to know him 
and understand him rightly, we must, to a certain de- 
gree, cease to attach an idea of misery to the hut he 
inhabits, and to his mantle of jackal-skin, and become the 
guest of the black family, sympathise with it, and find 
pleasure in its midst. As soon as these intimate rela- 
tions are established, everything becomes simple and 
easy. The native has no secrets from him whom he sees 
smiling upon his children, and sleeping peacefully at 
their side : the missionary also finds a certain charm in 



INTRODUCTION. Vll 

the society of his new friends ; if he at first thought 
them insensible, it was because he did not know the way 
to their hearts ; if they appeared stupid, it was because 
confidence had not yet unbound their tongues. The 
progress they make under his care, the questions they 
address to him, the objections they oppose to his argu- 
ments, the opportunities they daily afford him of doing 
them good, all interest him, and strengthen the bond of 
attachment ; even the trouble they cause him serves to 
stimulate his love. For these reasons I had learned to 
look upon Southern Africa as a second home. 

It is my purpose in this work to impart to the reader 
the impressions I received, and to give a detailed account 
of the manners and customs I observed. 

It will be advisable, perhaps, before proceeding any 
further, to point out, by a few general remarks, the dif- 
ferences which exist among the tribes of South Africa 
with regard to their nationality. 

They belong to two families, perfectly distinct, whose 
origin is still unknown. 

It is ascertained without a doubt, that the Hottentots 
formerly occupied the lands upon which the Caffre tribes 
are now dispersed. " As we advanced towards the 
south/' the Caffres invariably say, " we foun<J that the 
Hottentots had been there before us." It is, in fact, the 
latter who have given names to most of the rivers and 
mountains of those countries inhabited by their rivals. 

Certain Hottentots pretend to have learnt from tradi- 
tion that their ancestors ^arrived in Africa in a great 
basket It cannot be denied that their position at the 



Vlll INTKODUCTION. 

extremity of the promontory very much resembled that 
of islanders, shut in as they were on three sides by the 
sea, and on the north by a race with which they had 
hardly anything in common. But their extreme aver- 
sion to the sea, their absolute ignorance of the first rudi- 
ments of navigation, make it more than probable that 
they entered Africa by the north.* 

The yellow colour of the Hottentot, his high cheek- 
bones, his half-shut eyes, so wide apart and set obliquely 
in his head, his lanky limbs, place him in close con- 
nexion with the Mongolian race, but he has woolly hair. 
He is naturally obliging, lively in his social relations, 
noisy in his pleasures, angry and revengeful when 
wronged. His greatest faults are idleness and improvi- 
dence. If his ugliness is repulsive, we cannot listen with- 
out interest to the sallies — sportive, yet full of good sense 
— which characterise his conversation. He speaks a 
language of monosyllables, the hard and abrupt sounds 
of which form a striking contrast to the sonorous w T ords, 
the rhythmical phrases, which burst, like a flood of 
music, from the mouth of the CafFre. Nevertheless, in 
singing, the Hottentot far surpasses him in delicacy of 
ear, and sweetness and flexibility of voice. 

The intercourse of these natives with the white race 
has been fatal to them from the very beginning. 

* Perhaps the legend of the great basket may be traced up to 
the ark. According to Kolben, who made a stay at the Cape in 
1713, the Hottentots of his time asserted that they had sprung 
from a man called Noh (Noah), who had entered the world by a 
sort of window, and who had taught his children the art of 
raising cattle. 



INTRODUCTION. IX 

Twenty years had not yet elapsed since Diaz had 
discovered the stormy Cape, when Francisco Almeyda, 
viceroy of India, cast anchor in Table Bay, and landed 
some sailors for the purpose of obtaining cattle by 
means of exchange. The Hottentots repulsed these 
strangers, being suspicious of their intentions. The 
incensed governor, in trying to avenge the affront, 
perished by a poisoned arrow. Shortly afterwards the 
Portuguese appeared on these shores. Knowing the 
passion of the natives for copper, they placed in the 
midst of them a well-polished cannon, and pretended 
to make them a present of it. While the Hottentots 
pressed around this instrument of death, and dragged 
it, unsuspectingly, towards their huts, the Portuguese, 
who had loaded the piece with grape-shot, discharged 
it, and caused a frightful carnage. The remembrance 
of this atrocity is perpetuated to this day among the 
Korannas, who appear to be the direct descendants of 
the wretched victims. 

One hundred and forty-three years later the Dutch 
surgeon, Van Riebeek, built a fort in the same locality. 
The only object in view was, to secure to the East 
India Company a port where their vessels might take in 
a fresh stock of provisions ; but when did the cupidity 
of man know any bounds? 

The trade was at first very lucrative for the new- 
comers. A bit of brass-wire, or a few pounds of to- 
bacco, were sufficient to induce the native to part with 
one of his finest oxen. Nevertheless, Hottentot as he 
was, he soon understood, upon reflection, that he had 



X INTRODUCTION. 

set out on a ruinous path. From that time exchange 
became a matter of difficulty and rare occurrence, 
which put strange ideas into the head of the governor, 
Van Riebeek, as he beguiled away the time by looking 
over the ramparts of his little fort. 

" To-day," he wrote in December, 1652, " the 
Hottentots have driven thousands of animals close to 
our gardens to graze. These people will not sell us 
anything more. We have only been able to obtain 
from them two cows and seven sheep — they no longer 
care for our copper. If matters do not change, what 
harm would there be in taking, by a single coup de 
main, six or eight thousand animals? The thing would 
be very easy; for two or three men, at most, drive 
thousands of oxen close to the mouth of our cannon: 
besides, they are timid, and have the greatest confi- 
dence in us. We seek, by kindness and good-treat- 
ment, to remove every vestige of fear, in order to 
revive the exchange, and at the same time ensure 
the means, as soon as we receive orders to that effect, 
to capture their herds, without striking a blow, for 
the profit of the company." A little later we find the 
naive governor recording, in his note-book, some re- 
marks relative to another kind of spoliation, which the 
Hottentots regarded with no friendly eye. 

" The Hottentots," he wrote in April, 1660, " have 
dwelt at length upon the fact that we daily take a 
larger portion of the land, which has, from time im- 
memorial, belonged to them. They ask us ' if, sup- 
posing they went to establish themselves in Holland, 



INTRODUCTION. XI 

they would be permitted to act in the same manner?' 
c Still/ they add, ' if you would, content yourselves 
with the fort; but you come into the interior of the 
country, and take our best land, without even asking 
us if we like it or not.' In answer to the observation, 
which we begged them to make, that there was not 
enough grass for their cattle and ours, they added: 
' Are we not, therefore, quite right in seeking to hinder 
your having cattle? If you have a great many, you 
will come and let them graze with ours, and then you 
will say the land is not large enough for us both!' " 

These two extracts from the journal of Van Riebeek 
will suffice to explain the process by which the enclo- 
sure of the little fort was transformed into a colony, the 
extent of which is more than 22,000 square miles, and 
the Hottentots, after having been nearly annihilated, 
found themselves, at the beginning of this century, dis- 
possessed of every inch of territory in the regions 
which Providence had assigned for their abode. 

By a tardy act of justice, the remnant of this unfor- 
tunate people have been rescued, since the year 1829, 
from a condition bordering on slavery, and put in pos- 
session of civil rights equal to those of the colonists. 
The efforts of the Missionaries had rendered this resto- 
ration practicable. The Hottentots residing on the 
government lands of the Cape may be considered as 
gained over to civilisation. They render important 
services to the white population as husbandmen, arti- 
sans, or domestics. 

A regiment of mounted riflemen, remarkable for 



Xll INTRODUCTION. 

their martial bearing, is recruited entirely among them. 
Most of the asylums where the Missionaries had assem- 
bled these helots of modern times with a view to their 
elevation, have become considerable parishes, in which 
may be found schoolmasters, catechists, deacons, and 
readers, who would not be thought lightly of in more 
highly-favoured communities. 

The Great Namaquas and the Korannas, who belong 
to the same race, still enjoy their independence, thanks 
to their nomadic habits and their distance from the 
Cape, and have preserved the use of the national idiom : 
while the Hottentots of the colony speak, almost without 
exception, Dutch or English. The number of the Great 
Namaquas is estimated at 20,000. They occupy the 
country between the Orange River and the land of the 
Damaras, along the western coast. The Korannas, ori- 
ginally inhabitants of the neighbourhood of Table Bay, 
fled towards the north-east after the terrible affair of 
the Portuguese cannon. They are to be found in 28° 
S. lat, near the north bank of the river Fal. I know 
not if they were demoralised by the injury inflicted on 
them, but it is a fact that they have acquired a sorry re- 
nown by their inveterate taste for a vagrant life. They are 
distinguished from the Hottentots by their high stature, 
more muscular power, and an air of distrust and cun- 
ning. For the last twenty years the Missionaries have 
succeeded in gaining their attention, and in correcting 
them, to a certain degree, of their bad habits. 

Of all the branches of the Hottentot family that live 
out of Cape Colony, that of the Griquas is certainly the 



INTRODUCTION. Xlll 

most civilised. They are the descendants of the Khiri- 
griquas, whom Kolben, in 1713, placed near the Bay of 
St. Helena. They left that part of the country for the 
land of the Namaquas, and at the beginning of this cen- 
tury became attached to some missionaries, who, after 
having for some time shared their nomadic life, gained 
sufficient influence over them to induce them to settle in 
a fertile spot near the banks of the Orange River, in 28° 
E. long. Their numbers were soon reinforced by some 
slaves who had been set free, and by a considerable 
number of natives, who owe their origin to the illegal 
connexion of the colonists with the Hottentots. These 
half-castes differ but slightly from their mothers as re- 
gards physical conformation, but their habits and man- 
ners very much resemble those of the Dutch colonists. 

From these various elements are formed, round 
Griqua-Town and Philippolis, communities professing 
the Christian religion, and rapidly becoming civilised 
under the care of pastors and schoolmasters, whom they 
support and maintain themselves. 

The real savage of South Africa, the Bushman or 
Bosjesman, belongs to the Hottentot race. A more 
miserable and degraded being cannot be imagined ; he 
subsists entirely by hunting or plunder, either suffering 
the pangs of hunger, or indulging in excess of gluttony ; 
he has no settled abode, and is constantly exposed to the 
inclemency of the weather. This kind of life renders 
him prematurely old ; so much so that, from forty years 
of age, he bears all the marks of decay. Nevertheless, he 
almost always meets with a tragical end. Wherever he 



XIV INTRODUCTION. 

appears, any deficiency observed in the flocks is, justly 
or unjustly, always laid to his charge, and both the 
colonists and the Caffres have no more scruple in send- 
ing a ball through the head of a Bushman, than through 
that of a leopard or a hyena. The precision with which 
he lets fly his arrows, which, though almost impercep- 
tible, are poisoned at the tip, inspires his enemies with a 
secret terror, which in their eyes fully justifies the sum- 
mary manner in which they get rid of this disinherited 
child of the human family. Frequently, after having 
slain him in the desert, they seize upon his children and 
employ them in labours of the roughest and lowest 
kind. 

It has been falsely imagined that the Bushmen were 
Hottentots, reduced to despair and driven to abandon 
social life by the oppressive rule of the white men. In 
1654, only two years after the foundation of the Colony, 
one of the officers of the governor Van Riebeek, while 
making a journey of discovery, observed, about fifty 
miles from the Cape, certain natives of very small 
stature, extremely thin, and entirely in a savage state, 
possessing neither huts nor cattle, and nevertheless 
clothed like the other Hottentots, and speaking the same 
language. Thirty years later the Governor, Van der 
Stell, makes mention in one of his despatches of natives 
called Souquois,* who were distinguished from the Hot- 
tentots, properly so called, by their extreme thinness, hav- 
ing neither house nor home, subsisting on game, bulbs,, 
locusts and caterpillars, and always armed with poisoned 
f The Bechuanas gave them the name of Baroa. 



INTRODUCTION. XV 

arrows. We cannot, therefore, doubt that the Bushman 
existed in his present state long before the arrival of the 
Dutch colonists had modified the national economy of 
the Hottentot tribes. 

Moreover, a phenomenon of the same nature appears 
in an important section of the Caffre race — the Bechu- 
anas. Besides tribes remarkable for their attachment to 
social life, forming villages, the population of which 
sometimes amounts to eight or ten thousand souls, are 
found the Balalas, belonging to the same family, having 
the same groundwork of ideas, but w T andering at ran- 
dom in the deserts, subsisting on game and wild fruits. 
Like the Bushmen, they have considerably degenerated 
in their physical development. Everything leads us to 
believe that they are the remains of tribes dispossessed 
of their lands by war, and preferring a life of vagrancy 
to the humiliation of seeing themselves amalgamated 
with victorious nations. 

We are convinced that the stunted growth and the 
hideous features of the Bushmen are solely the result 
of misery. A Mochuana chief, somewhat of a philan- 
thropist, had succeeded in assembling a certain number 
of these savages, given them some cattle, and induced 
them to cultivate the ground. After two or three 
generations they were completely changed, in nowise 
differing as regards stature and muscular contour from 
Hottentots of the finest build. This fact came under 
our own personal observation. The moral and intel- 
lectual improvement of the Bushmen may, perhaps, be 
more difficult, but it is not impossible. They learn 



XVI INTRODUCTION. 

Dutch with ease > and I have known some who were 
able to read and write that language tolerably well. 

The Caffre race is entirely distinct from that of the 
Hottentots, and, save the colour of the skin and the 
texture of the hair, bear a strong resemblance to the 
Caucasian type, both as regards the features and the 
form of the skull. A fine specimen of this race, by his 
noble and dignified bearing, the symmetry of his limbs, 
added to his state of nudity and the colour of his skin, 
might be taken for a beautiful bronze statue come down 
from its pedestal. It has been supposed that a mixture 
of Arab and Negro blood runs in their veins, which is 
probably true. Among the same tribes, and often in the 
same families, individuals are found who are only tawny- 
coloured, whilst others are nearly black. This race is 
subdivided into two large families : the Caffres proper, 
and the Bechuanas. The former inhabit the coast of 
the Indian Ocean, from the frontiers of Cape Colony 
as far as Mozambique. In 1688, the Dutch vessel 
Stavenisse was wrecked on the coast of Caffraria, and 
part of the crew remained some time among the in- 
habitants of the country. On reaching Cape Town, 
these sailors gave some information about the tribes they 
had observed. They mentioned the Maponte ( Amapontos, 
as the natives say, or Amapondas, as our maps have it), 
the Matembe (Amatembus, or Tembukis), the Mageryga 
(Amagalekas), and the Magoshe (Amakosas). These 
tribes still inhabit Caffraria. We must add to these 
the Zulus of Natal, whose territory extends to the fron- 
tiers of the Mozambique. There is not the smallest 



INTKODUCTION. XV11 

doubt that the Caffres, as well as the Bechuanas, came 
from the northern parts of Africa by successive migra- 
tions. They say so themselves; and in burying the 
dead, the Basutos are careful to turn the face of the 
deceased towards the north-east, stating as their reason 
for this custom, that the children must always look 
towards the regions from which their ancestors pro- 
ceeded. The Caffres hold the sea in still greater aver- 
sion than the Hottentots do. 

They are gifted with much intelligence, and great 
strength of character. When in the presence of 
strangers, their features wear the expression of a re- 
serve bordering on disdain. Sedentary occupations are 
distasteful to them; the fatigues and emotions of the 
chase or of contest are essential to their athletic consti- 
tutions, and their lively imaginations. The wrestling 
that generally follows public debates has a great charm 
for them, and on these occasions they display great 
eloquence and skill. Every attempt that has been made 
to subjugate them by force of arms has failed, hardly 
serving even to humiliate them. When a CafFre is 
wounded by a ball, he picks a few blades of grass 
and makes a kind of plug, which he introduces into the 
wound ; then turning to his enemy, he cries : Leuka I 
Never ! Never ! " 

Unfortunately, they are extremely superstitious, and 
allow themselves to be led blindly by their diviners, 
who oppose with all their might the introduction of 
Christianity and civilisation. The tribe of the Ama- 
kosas has just been broken up in consequence of a 



XV111 INTRODUCTION. 

famine caused by the bad counsels of these im- 
postors. 

The Caffres who have renounced paganism evince 
great perseverance and devotedness ; many of them are 
preparing themselves for teaching in the normal schools 
which have been founded on the frontiers of their 
country. 

The Bechuanas, though they belong to the same 
race as the Caffres, are generally inferior to them in 
feature and symmetry of form. Being less warlike, 
and not so passionately fond of hunting and violent 
exercises, they lead a more sedentary life, and their con- 
stitution has suffered the natural consequences. They 
make up for this physical inferiority by great facility of 
mind, remarkably social habits, and a decided taste for 
all lucrative employment. 

The Basutos are one of the most considerable sub- 
divisions of this great family. Scattered along the 
western side of the Malutis, a high chain of mountains 
which separates the country of the Bechuanas from the 
land of Natal, this tribe appears to be composed of the 
various branches of the Caffre race, and is, perhaps, for 
that reason, the most complete type of their character, 
manners, and institutions. When we entered their 
country, they had never had any intercourse with 
tribes of a different origin to their own. They had 
preserved their customs and their ideas in all their pri- 
mitive freshness, and delighted in expressing them with 
that poetical enthusiasm, and that tenacity of attach- 
ment, which is always remarkable in the inhabitants of 



INTRODUCTION. XIX 

i 

mountains. It is in their midst that the observations 
regarding manners and customs have been made which 
will be found in this work ; but they may be considered 
as applicable,, for the most part, to all the Caffre and 
Bechuana tribes. The same foundation of ideas some- 
times takes different forms among different tribes, and 
the influence of certain customs is not everywhere felt 
with the same intensity. We will be careful to point 
out the most remarkable points of difference. 

The chief, Sebetoane, in 1824, led a powerful colony 
of Basutos to the shores of the Zambesi. These are 
the Makololos, who gave so hearty a welcome to Dr. 
Livingstone, and whose friendship will be helpful to 
him in fresh discoveries. They carried with them their 
customs and their national ideas, and have caused them 
to be adopted by the tribes they have subjugated. Thus 
it is that, in describing the Basutos, properly so called, 
we shall make the reader acquainted, in a social and 
intellectual point of view, with the tribes living in 
18° S. lat. 

We will, however, first relate the principal inci- 
dents connected with our arrival and settlement among 
the tribes we desire to make known. 



^, 



JiivangeticaZ Missivnary Stations. 
— — .Paris Missions 

■ . Jjondon- 
— Wtsleycm 
^— * Scottish 
- - — American „ 
m mm l M ■ (sermon 
»•««. Moravian^ „ 







12 




PART L 
JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION— LABOURS. 



CHAPTER I. 



Thirty years have elapsed since the first delegates of 
the Evangelical Missionary Society of Paris- — Messrs. 
Rolland, Lemue, and Bisseux — embarked for the Cape 
of Good Hope. They were welcomed with delight by 
the descendants of the French refugees, whom the revo- 
cation of the Edict of Nantes had forced to seek an 
asylum in these distant latitudes. Families bearing the 
illustrious names of Duplessis, Daille, Roux, Malan, de 
Villiers, Malherbe, contended for the honour of receiving 
under their roofs co-religionists, who had not been brought 
to them by the storms of persecution, but who had volun- 
tarily exiled themselves to preach the Gospel of Jesus 
Christ to the heathen. 

At this time, slavery still existed at the Cape. The 
refugees possessed a great number of black men, imported 
by the slave-traders or born on their estates; they 
earnestly entreated that one of the Missionaries would 
undertake the education of these degraded beings. Mr. 

B 



2 THE BASUTOS. 

Bisseux responded to this appeal, and took up his abode 
at Waggonmaker's Valley (la Vallee du Charron), near 
the Paarl. His colleagues, wishing to publish the good 
tidings of salvation where they had not yet been heard, 
journeyed through the whole of Cape Colony, and crossed 
the northern boundary. Another fellow-worker, Mr. 
Pellissier, was soon added to their number. Then, 
advancing towards the tropics, they pitched their tent 
at Mosiga, in the country of the Baharutsis, in 26° S. 
lat., 24° E. long. 

This region is extremely beautiful. Nature, in all 
its pristine freshness, seemed to smile on the enterprise 
of the Missionaries, and to offer to them spontaneously 
the means of providing the natives with the advantages 
of an enlightened civilisation, while they imparted to 
them the blessings of the Gospel. They had at their 
disposal vast forests; valleys covered with luxuriant 
vegetation ; streams that a few clods of earth sufficed to 
turn out of their course ; and mountains, rich in iron and 
copper ore. One would seek in vain, wrote Mr. Lemue, 
a scene so beautiful, in all the colony of the Cape of 
Good Hope. To the north rise the mountains of 
Kurrichane and Lohorutsi; to the east lies the valley 
of Magame, covered with fields of millet; and to the 
south, hills carpeted with verdure beautify the landscape 
by the variety of their forms. The population, the exact 
number of which has never been ascertained, but which 
is considerable, belongs to that great sub-division of the 
Caffre race designated by the name of Bechuanas, and 
distinguished by their gentle manners. The Baharutsis 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 3 

received the Missionaries with eagerness. Report had 
made known to them all the advantages that more privi- 
leged tribes had derived from the teaching and counsels 
of such men. Thus it was that Mokatla, who governed 
these countries, hastened to place at their disposal all 
the ground that was needful for their establishment. A 
few days after their arrival he assembled his subjects, 
and addressed to them the following harangue: — "We 
have long been expecting Missionaries : now that we see 
them, our hearts are filled with joy. If you wish them 
not to leave us, you must come and listen to their words, 
or else they will say, ' No one gives ear to our discourse, 
let us depart.' " 

But these encouragements were of no avail, unless 
they had the sanction of Moselekatsi, a fierce warrior, 
whose name alone spread terror throughout these 
countries. 

Born on the borders of the Indian Ocean, in the 
country of Natal, intestine revolutions had obliged him 
to expatriate himself, with some thousands of warriors 
attached to his fortunes. Devastation had marked his 
every step towards the centre of the continent. To make 
up for the losses that he sustained, he spared the lives of 
the young men, and incorporated them into the ranks of 
his warriors. The virgins that were carried aw^ay cap- 
tive belonged to him, and he distributed them, according 
to his fancy, among the men, who, by their age or their 
exploits, were foremost in the ranks. Recruits, conducted 
by chiefs in whom he had perfect confidence, and to 
whom he gave the power of life and death, went more 



4 THE BASUTOS. 

than a hundred miles from his camp, to rob inoffen- 
sive tribes of all the riches they possessed. Such was 
the man who, for some months past, had fixed his resi- 
dence a few days' journey from the beautiful land of the 
Baharutsis. 

Hardly had the Missionaries begun to collect mate- 
rials for constructing a shelter for themselves, when 
delegates appeared from this tyrant. Their athletic 
forms, their entire want of clothing, with the exception 
of a few panthers' tails, carelessly worn around the loins, 
their formidable spears, the enormous shield, with which 
they covered the whole body, rendered these Caffres 
easily distinguishable from the Baharutsis. They brought 
a command to the Missionaries to appear forthwith before 
Moselekatsi. 

Prudence forbidding their all answering this sum- 
mons, Mr. Pellissier offered to go alone. The natives, 
who witnessed his departure, declared that he would 
never return. His waggon, surrounded by assagais, 
disappeared in the thick forests of mimosas, and our 
friend found himself entirely at the mercy of the Mate- 
beles. Every evening the chief of the escort sent an 
express to inform his master of the place where they had 
halted, and they were obliged to await the return of the 
messenger before daring to resume their march. The 
interview of our colleague with Moselekatsi was, how- 
ever, more favourable than could have been hoped. 
The wily destroyer — wishing, perhaps, to calm the fears 
of the Baharutsis, and to inspire them with a fatal 
security — received Mr. Pellissier with affability, detained 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 5 

him for some days, asked him to come and reside near 
him, and put no obstacle in the way of his return. 

Hardly had our friend recovered from the fatigues of 
the journey, when messengers from Moselekatsi again 
arrived at Mosiga. They had received orders to conduct 
the three Missionaries to him, and not to appear in his 
presence again without bringing them and their carriages. 
Mokatla, frightened at this message, went in search of 
his benefactors, and entreated them to depart without 
delay, expecting that, if the despot were to suspect him 
of detaining them, he would instantly send him a sentence 
of death. Just at this time, men arriving from different 
places came to the Missionaries secretly, and warned 
them that the chief of the Matebeles had decided upon 
their ruin. What was to be done at such a crisis? 
They must either trust to the mercy of a sanguinary 
tyrant, or take flight in order to escape his barbarity. 
This last and wisest plan was also found to be the most 
practicable. Not one of those who followed the Mission- 
aries would consent to accompany them to Moselekatsi ; 
they decided, therefore, on taking refuge at Litaku. 
Some weeks later, Mr. Lemue wrote from thence: — 
"Africa is ringing with the diabolical exploits of the 
Matebeles : the Barolongs are defeated ; the Bakuenas 
are dispersed ; the Baharutsis have taken flight ; while 
the blood of the other tribes is hardly cold." 

Although our friends had passed but a short time 
with the Baharutsis, they were warmly attached to this 
people, and resolved to re-assemble those of them who 
were dispersed through the country. To accomplish 



6 THE BASUTOS. 

this it was necessary to undertake another journey, still 
more fatiguing than any of the preceding ones. After a 
march of eight days towards the east, often over rocks 
and mountains, they discovered the fugitives in a small 
forest, not far from the banks of the Kolong, and were 
at once surrounded by the unfortunate people, who 
clamorously demanded food. They had happily brought 
with them a certain number of cattle, and every day an 
ox was killed and distributed amongst the starving 
multitude. When the women and children had suffi- 
ciently recovered strength, the Missionaries gave the 
signal of departure, and marching by short journeys, 
they conducted all those who wished to follow them to a 
place of perfect safety, near Litaku. Such was the 
origin of Motito, the first of our settlements in South 
Africa. 

The commencement of this station was an arduous 
undertaking, as our friends could receive but little aid 
from an indigent and dispirited population. They were 
even obliged, for some time, to undertake the task of 
purveying for others; and every Saturday they rode 
into the desert to hunt the eland, the quagga, the gnu, 
and other large animals, destined to satisfy the hunger 
of the natives during the week. 

At the time these events were transpiring, the author 
of this work, and two other missionaries, Messrs. Ar- 
bousset and Gossellin, were sailing towards the Cape, 
expecting to find those who had preceded them actively 
engaged in the country of the Baharutsis. 

Deep were the emotions that we were to experience 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 7 

on landing. Under any circumstances, the approach to 
the extreme boundary of the mysterious land of Ham 
produces a thrilling impression on the mind. Contrasts 
of the most extraordinary nature there present them- 
selves to the eye. One almost doubts the reality of 
those beacon-lights, those cathedral spires, those well- 
made roads at the foot of a mountain, the sombre and 
savage aspect of which paralysed with fear such men 
as Bartholomew Diaz and Vasco de Gama, and which 
appeared to rise from the depths of the ocean to oppose 
an insurmountable barrier to our race. But civilisation 
has prevailed. The songs of mariners from all parts 
of the world have succeeded to the clamour of the pen- 
guin and the petrel. Here lies at anchor a noble fleet 
of three-masted vessels ; there, graceful boats float past 
each other ; and as they rise with the waves, present by 
turns the pyramidical hat of the Malay, the golden epau- 
lette of the naval officer, and the gaily-coloured hand- 
kerchief, with which the negro boatman loves to adorn 
his head. On shore, the same transformation has taken 
place ; broad streets, fine shops, an Observatory and an 
Exchange, now grace the former haunts of the jackal 
and the hyena. But the impression produced upon us 
by this extraordinary spectacle was but slight, com- 
pared with the grief that we experienced on learning 
the misfortunes of our predecessors. Novices as yet in 
the struggle of life, it appeared to us that our career was 
blighted ; and, almost stunned, we asked ourselves, whi- 
ther should we direct our steps, now that the only known 
path to the central parts of the continent was closed to 



8 THE BASUTOS. 

us. We little thought that Providence had appointed 
us to open a new one. 

Up to that time, none of the travellers who had 
been led by views of evangelisation or commerce beyond 
the Orange River, had deviated from the route marked 
out by the Rev. J. Campbell, to whom we are indebted 
for the discovery of Litaku. The indefatigable Schme- 
len had explored the country of the Little and the 
Great Namaquas; and Messrs. Anderson and Moffat 
had succeeded in establishing communications between 
these desolate regions and the country of the Bechuanas. 
The east remained still unknown, though considerable 
streams of water seemed to denote the existence of an 
elevated and well-watered region in that direction, fertile, 
and very probably inhabited. 

This fact had not escaped the notice of the Korannas 
and the Griquas, Hottentot hordes, whom a thirst for 
plunder had unceasingly driven in search of new 
victims. Ascending the river Caledon, they had dis- 
covered numerous tribes, which they had devastated 
with impunity, thanks to the terror which their muskets 
caused among a people hitherto unacquainted with these 
terrible arms. These enterprises were conducted with 
the most profound secrecy; nothing, however, can 
hinder the Almighty from accomplishing His designs. 
In their despair, some of the Basutos* (such is the name 

* In order that the reader may rightly understand the or- 
% thography of this word, we will observe, that in speaking of a 
single individual they say, Mosuto ; of many, Basuto ; of the 
country, Lesuto ; and of the language, Sesuto. 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 9 

of the people who had been ravaged by the Korannas), 
tracking the footsteps of their persecutors through vast 
solitudes, resolved to die near the flocks of which 
they had been despoiled. To their great surprise, they 
found among the tribes to which their enemies belonged 
men who were touched by the recital of their woes, and 
who treated them with generosity. Some time after- 
wards, one of their benefactors having gone to hunt on 
the confines of their country, the chief of the Basutos 
was informed of it, and sent' a deputation imploring him 
to visit the place where such great crimes were com- 
mitted. This man had had the advantage of receiving 
instruction from several English missionaries, and he 
did not hesitate to declare to the despairing chief that 
the Christian religion alone could give peace and pros- 
perity to his people. He was believed, although not 
understood ; God himself, doubtless, overruled this con- 
ference, and inclined the hearts of the natives to receive 
with joy the advice thus given them by the mouth of a 
stranger. Before returning to his own country, they 
obtained a promise from him that he would use every 
effort to send missionaries to them. Some time after, 
the chief, fearing that he had forgotten his promise, or 
that he had not been able to fulfil it, sent him some 
oxen, with the nawe request that he would procure him 
in exchange a man of prayer. 

The news of this incident reached Cape Town at the 
time of our landing. It was brought there by a dis- 
tinguished philanthropist and an eminent missionary — 
one to whom the Hottentots owe their deliverance, and 



10 THE BASUTOS. 

who may be styled, without hesitation, the Las Casas of 
the aborigines of Southern Africa. Dr. Philip had 
just returned from the interior, where he had been to 
give his pastoral counsel and encouragement to the 
neophytes of the London Missionary Society. We had 
been recommended to him, and from the first he evinced 
a paternal affection for us. Seeing our perplexity, he 
related to us the extraordinary incident, the report of 
which had reached his ears from a region as yet unex- 
plored. We, therefore, resolved to seek, on the banks 
of the Orange River, the Hottentot whom Providence 
seemed to have appointed the herald of our coming. We 
found him without any difficulty, and he related to us 
the particulars of his interview with Moshesh, or the 
Chief of the Mountain, as he was then called, and offered 
to conduct us to him. A way was clearly opened for 
us, and we had but to walk in it. 

Six months after our departure from Paris we had 
penetrated two hundred leagues from the Cape into the 
country of the Basutos, and our eyes rested with 
admiring wonder on the majestic chain of the Malutis, 
which separates the land of the Bechuanas from Natal. 
Down the sides of these mountains, as from a common 
source, flow the finest rivers of South Africa — the 
Orange, the Caledon, the Fal, and the Lekoa, taking 
their course westward ; the Mosinyati (or Buffalo River), 
the Tongela, the Umzimkulu, and the Umzimvubu, 
falling into the Indian Ocean. 

For a distance of twenty-five or thirty miles of the 
chain our waggon had not met with any serious obstacle. 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 1 1 

Drawn by twelve oxen, and driven by a patient native, 
it advanced a few leagues every day across interminable 
plains, while we amused ourselves with hunting the 
numerous antelopes, elands, and zebras that came across 
our path. But when we^ were within two days of our 
journey's end, the character of the scenery entirely 
changed. Solitary mountains, from 1500 to 1800 feet 
high, and several leagues in circumference, appeared 
on all sides like so many fortifications thrown up to 
defend the approach to the rugged ramparts that we 
had been able for some time to distinguish in the distant 
horizon. These mountains have nearly all the form of 
table-land ; the plain at their summit is surrounded by a 
regular crown of gray rocks, the horizontal strata of 
which lie one above the other with the most beautiful 
regularity. Here and there a cleft in the rock, worn 
away by the water, exposed to view the projecting masses 
of basalt, of which the interior of these gigantic construc- 
tions is composed. The base is surrounded by enormous 
blocks of sandstone, some of which are covered with the 
wild vine and other creeping plants, while others are 
piled one above another in rude and fantastic confusion. 
Here an obelisk, without the aid of the engineer, has 
partly taken its stand on a quadrangular base. There a 
block, looking as though it had been rounded by the aid 
of the compasses, perfectly balanced on a rude pivot, pre- 
sents the appearance of a gigantic mushroom. In other 
places are seen rocks of a prismatic form, so arranged 
as to resemble an immense vase, which time has filled 
with rich mould, and over which patriarchal olive-trees 



12 THE BASUT0S. 

wave their evergreen branches. These rocks originally 
belonged to the masses towering above them, and indeed 
the traces of the most recent landslips are still percep- 
tible. Surround these ruins with knotted shrubs, rasp- 
berry bushes, and wild convolvuli, and on the tufted 
grass which covers the mountain-side plant here and 
there an aloe and a group of everlastings; picture to 
yourself the gray and the fawn-coloured gazelle, and the 
timid jerboa, sporting on this variegated carpet, and 
baboons of all sizes and ages running along the edges 
of the precipices ; and you will be able to form some idea 
of the scene which presented itself to our view on enter- 
ing the country of the Basutos. In some places the 
valleys present the appearance of vast circles, but more 
generally they resemble long avenues, terminating in 
narrow alleys. The depth of the vegetable earth is 
considerable, as may be seen in the excavations formed 
by the descent of the mountain-torrents ; consequently 
the soil is exceedingly fertile. Nearly everywhere a 
foundation of clay is found, covered with a blackish soil 
of the richest nature, of two or three feet in depth. The 
grass reaches such a height that it is necessary to destroy 
it every winter by means of fire ; and it is perhaps to 
these annual conflagrations that we must ascribe the 
remarkable scarcity of trees. These are hardly ever to 
be found, except on the banks of rivers and in high 
mountain-passes. The streams of water, that meet one 
at almost every step, generally run over beds of basalt^ 
and wash down a great quantity of opaque or crys- 
talised quartz, agates, and cornelians. Limestone is 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 13 

extremely rare. Of the malleable minerals, iron was 
the only one that we observed ; this, however, is found 
in large quantities. Having had the misfortune to break 
our barometer, we were not able precisely to determine 
the elevation of the chain of the Malutis; but it is at 
least 9000 feet above the level of the sea. 

That which struck us most particularly on arriving 
was the solitary and desolate aspect of the country. 
Vainly did our eyes wander in search of the hamlets, 
the groups of labourers, so naturally associated in the 
mind with the idea of a fertile and variegated soil. 
Human bones, whitening in the sun and rain, appeared 
on all sides; and more than once we were obliged to 
turn out of our way in order that the wheels of our 
waggon might not pass over these sad remains. When 
we asked our guides where the proprietors of this 
country lived, they pointed to a few miserable huts at 
the top of some of the steepest mountains. When from 
time to time we chanced to meet a hunter, the unfor- 
tunate creature no sooner perceived our caravan than he 
would throw himself on the ground and hide in the 
grass. 

However, as we approached the residence of the 
chief, the general aspect of things changed in a very 
encouraging manner. We began to meet with consider- 
able flocks, grazing under the care of well-armed shep- 
herds, and we observed fields apparently cultivated 
with care. A messenger, whom we had sent before us, 
had spread the news of our speedy arrival ; and the in- 
habitants of the hamlets that lay in our path ventured 



14 THE BASUTOS. 

out to look at these extraordinary white men, who, it 
was said, would repair all past disasters. When we 
encamped in the evening they brought us some beau- 
tiful pumpkins, some milk, and a kind of sugar-cane ; 
while we distributed amongst them handfuls of salt, 
which always gave them the greatest pleasure. Our 
interpreter, a lad, who was very fond of talking on 
any but religious subjects, tried to prove by many long 
explanations that we were made of flesh and bones, 
like other mortals. At times, lively altercations would 
arise, owing to his reasonings not being sufficiently 
powerful to dissipate their doubts. Then he would seize 
upon the most incredulous, drag them in a state of 
trembling amazement into our presence, and recom- 
mence his demonstrations on our persons. At one time 
it was our shoes that upset the notions of these good 
people. It was hard to prove to them that real toes 
were to be found under the smooth black leather. At 
another time our long straight hair suggested to our 
hosts the idea of monkeys rather than men. It was 
necessary, therefore, for the honour of our race, to 
allow them a minute inspection, in order that they 
might judge for themselves how far superior were our 
silken locks to the wool which covered their own heads. 
We found that it was not without reason that they 
had given the name of Chief of the Mountain to the 
sovereign of the Basutos. His principal town was, and is 
still, situated on the table-land of Thaba-Bosio, a moun- 
tain in the form of a pentagon, and completely fortified 
by nature. We were welcomed with every demonstra- 




MOSHESH (in 1833). 



P. 15 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. . 15 

tion of joy; and the first few days were devoted to ex- 
plaining to our new acquaintances the object that we 
had in view. It was no easy matter to make these 
heathen — absorbed as they were with material things — 
feel the benefit they would derive, in a temporal point 
of view, from the diffusion of Christian doctrines. To 
increase our difficulties, our interpreter's acquaintance 
with Dutch, the language which we used, did not ex- 
ceed the commonest phrases of every-day life ; and we 
have since learned that, owing to this deficiency, endless 
absurdities were circulated in our name. No obstacle, 
however, can frustrate the purposes of the Almighty. 
He inspired the Basutos and their chief with perfect 
confidence in our good intentions. This unhappy people, 
who had been for so many years a prey to misfortune, 
welcomed with delight the first ray of hope that dawned 
upon them. 

My readers will, perhaps, be as well pleased if, 
before going further, we make a short halt at Thaba- 
Bosio, to make the acquaintance of the man who had 
invited us thither, and to learn the principal events that 
had preceded our arrival. 

Moshesh has an agreeable and interesting counte- 
nance, his deportment is noble and dignified, his features 
bespeak habits of reflection and of command, and a bene- 
volent smile plays upon his lips. At the time of his birth, 
the country of the Basutos was, it seems, extremely 
populous. The tribe presented, on a small scale, the 
aspect of France in the feudal times. The supremacy of 
the house of Monahing was acknowledged, of which 



16 THE BASUTOS. 

house Moshesh is a representative ; but the chief of each 
town was continually striving to gain as much inde- 
pendence as possible. Disputes arose from time to time 
between the various communities, but generally little 
blood was shed, and no more disastrous consequences 
ensued than the abduction of a few flocks and herds. 
This state of things lasted until the year 1820; 
Moshesh was then living at his native place, to the north 
of Thaba-Bosio, and at a distance of two days' journey 
from that town. The green pastures of Butabute, and 
the steep hills where the son of Mokachane hunted the 
elk and the wild boar with his companions, are still 
celebrated in the national songs of these tribes. At a 
moment when it was least expected, these favourite 
sports were suddenly interrupted by a disastrous inva- 
sion from Natal, whence we have already seen issue the 
terrible Moselekatsi. The people of this country were 
groaning under an iron yoke. Chaka, a chief as clever 
as he was cruel, had subdued them, and held them in 
subjection, by putting to death, without mercy, any one 
who would not submit to his authority. One of the 
most influential vassals of this despot, Mateoane by 
name, weary of this tyranny, secretly quitted the 
country, leading with him some thousands of warriors 
devoted to his person. On his route he met Pakalita, 
chief of the Fingoes, whom, after several combats, he 
put to flight. Pakalita, hotly pursued, crossed the 
chain of the Malutis, and fell upon the Mantatis, whom 
he found near the sources of the Fal. These latter, 
favoured by their knowledge of the localities, plunged 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 17 

into the mountain passes, advanced rapidly southward, 
and carried desolation into the peaceful valleys of Le- 
suto (as the Basutos call their country). From that 
time this land became the scene of continual slaughter. 
Mateoane, thinking himself at a safe distance from 
Chaka, settled on the banks of the Caledon. Pakalita 
also took up his abode in the same quarter. The two 
tribes did not cease to harass each other, and to make 
the Mantatis and the Basutos, who were always at war 
with each other, feel the terrible consequences of having 
them as such near neighbours. This state of things 
lasted for some years ; the fields remained uncultivated, 
and the horrors of famine were added to those of war. 
Whole tribes were entirely ruined by this twofold 
scourge. The ties of kindred and friendship were 
broken, and were at last entirely forgotten. All gave 
themselves up to murder and to pillage. At length, 
associations of cannibals were formed in the mountains, 
who, belonging to no particular party, went everywhere 
in search of victims. We have frequently visited the 
caves where these wretches lived. The ground is 
thickly strewed with half- roasted skulls, shoulder- 
blades, and broken bones. Large red spots are still 
perceptible in the most retired parts of these dens, where 
the flesh was deposited ; the blood has penetrated so deep 
into the rock, that the trace of it will never be effaced. 

Nearly all the influential men in the country were 
carried away by the tide of war. Moshesh breasted the 
stream. Being of a very observant disposition, and 
endowed with great strength of character, he knew how 

c 



18 . THE BASUTOS. 

to resist and how to yield at the right moment ; procured 
himself allies, even among the invaders of his territory ; 
set his enemies at variance with each other, and by 
various acts of kindness secured the respect of those 
even who had sworn his ruin. The profound knowledge 
of the human heart, which is the prominent trait in 
his character, was once the means of saving his life. He 
found himself, after a defeat, with four or five of his 
warriors, completely hemmed in by the enemy. A dis- 
tance of a few yards only separated them from a hedge 
of javelins. The Zulus, sure of their prey, struck their 
shields and rent the air with their hisses, as it is their 
custom to do at the moment of triumph. Moshesh sat 
down, and ordered his men to follow his example. After 
a moment's silence he got up, saying: "Come, follow 
me ; it is not thus that kings are slain ! " then, walking 
proudly towards the enemy, he shouted : " Turn aside 
— make room ! " The Zulus, yielding without reflection 
to the ascendancy thus gained over them, opened their 
ranks, and let him pass. 

During the height of the struggle he took refuge at 
the top of Thaba-Bosio, where the steep rocks secured 
him from being surprised by the enemy. By degrees 
his adversaries lost ground; Pakalita died; Mateoane 
carried his arms into Caffraria, and there sustained a 
defeat, which he never recovered. Only the Mantatis 
now remained, and with them Moshesh endeavoured to 
come to terms. Two well-concerted expeditions had 
greatly increased the number of his flocks, so that at the 
end of the struggle his resources enabled him to rally 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 19 

around him those who were entirely destitute. Thou- 
sands of Basutos had taken refuge in the Cape Colony; 
peace alone was wanting to induce them to return. 
Moshesh, therefore, endeavoured to restore tranquillity ; 
his first care was to suppress cannibalism. Those of his 
subjects who were innocent of this horrible practice were 
disposed to treat the guilty with rigour. Moshesh saw 
that this would incur all the horrors of a civil war, and 
tend to depopulate still more a land already almost 
destitute of inhabitants. He knew also that cannibalism, 
not being the result of national customs and traditions, 
must in reality be repugnant to those even who indulged 
in it. He therefore answered, that men- eaters were 
living sepulchres, and that one could not fight with 
sepulchres. These words w r ere sufficient to rescue the 
wretches whom he wished to bring to repentance. They 
saw in the clemency of their chief an unhoped-for 
means of restoration to their former position, and re- 
solved to avail themselves of it. From that time canni- 
balism w r as gradually discontinued. There are critical 
moments in the fate of nations, when a word suffices to 
introduce a new era. 

In order to give the reader some idea of the horrors 
to which Moshesh had put an end, at so little cost, we 
will here transcribe an incident related to us by Mapike, 
one of the most veracious of the Basutos we have 
ever known:— 

" Some time before your arrival I was deputed by 
Makara, the chief of my native village, to ransom one of 
his wives,, who had fallen into the hands of the cannibals. 



20 THE BASUTOS, 

Six oxen were the price of the ransom. We set *off at 
dawn of day, and reached our destination as the shadows 
of the mountains were lengthening on the plain. The 
cannibals, with whom we had to do, had formed their 
dwellings in an immense cavern, surrounded by thorny 
bushes and fallen pieces of rock. We entered into con- 
versation with some women, who were returning from 
the fields, bearing baskets full of roots upon their heads. 
They informed us that the young person whom we 
desired to restore to her family w r as still living, and 
assured us that our oxen w r ould be taken in exchange. 
These words gave us a little courage. We immediately 
climbed the steep ascent that led to the cave of the 
anthropophagi. But hardly had we reached it when 
our legs began to tremble, and a thrill of horror ran 
through our veins: nothing was to be seen but skulls 
and broken bones. A woman uncovered a pot that 
stood upon the hearth, and we saw in it a hand swollen 
by cooking. The men, they said, were gone a-hunting. 
It was not long before we understood what that meant, 
for they soon arrived, armed with clubs and javelins, 
bringing a captive with them, and shouting, 'Wah! 
w r ah!' as the Basutos do when they drive a herd of 
oxen. This captive was a tall, well-formed, and hand- 
some young man ; he entered with a firm step, and w r as 
ordered to sit down in the centre of the cavern. He 
heard us explain the object of our visit, but seemed not 
to heed what we said. A few moments afterwards a 
cord was put round his neck, and he was strangled. I 
hid my face in my cloak, but when I supposed that the 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 21 

poor young man was dead I looked up again, in order 
not to offend my hosts. The cutting-up was performed 
just as if it had been an ox. We wished to depart 
immediately, at the risk of losing our way during the 
night, but they told us we must wait till next day. We 
were, therefore, obliged to comply; and taking a few 
handfuls of baked flour from our haversacks, and a little 
water, we wrapped ourselves up in our cloaks, and lay 
down as near as possible to each other. Long before 
the cock crew we were awakened by a frightful noise : 
a woman was struggling with her husband; several 
cannibals had come to the spot, and the unfortunate 
creature was beseeching them to have mercy on her. I 
heard these words repeated several times — 6 She is incor- 
rigible — we must eat her!' 'My lords, my fathers!' 
she cried, 'do not kill me! I will do all you wish.' 
After a long consultation as to whether she should be 
spared or not, they set her at liberty ; and I could not 
help thinking, that the abundance of food the wretches 
had in store contributed not a little to soften their hearts 
at this time. 

"The next day, after much parleying, our friend 
was given up to us ; the cannibals informed us that it 
was a great favour, as six oxen were not equal in value 
to the young woman. 

"" Makara was delighted to see his wife once more, 
but she soon escaped from him, and returned of her own 
accord to the den from which we had rescued her. She 
had found friends there, and had acquired a taste for 
human flesh." 



22 , THE BASUTOS. 

Such are the abominable excesses into which unex- 
pected revolutions may lead people of a naturally gentle 
disposition, when they are not restrained by the fear of 
God.* 

Cannibalism was now nearly at an end ; those who 
had never been guilty of it were becoming the stronger 
party. Moshesh was beginning to breathe again, when 
he was attacked by other enemies. These were, on one 
side, the terrible hosts of Moselekatsi, and on the other, 
the Korannas, well-mounted, and armed with muskets. 
The former came from the north, the latter from the 
west; and they arrived simultaneously, as if they had 
concerted to swallow up a people already weakened by a 
succession of misfortunes. 

At a little distance from Thaba-Bosio is a charming 
little river, winding its way among willow-trees. On 
the borders of the stream the troops of Moselekatsi 
halted, to recover from the fatigues of a march of more 
than a hundred leagues. From the top of the mountain 
they might frequently be seen bathing, arranging their 
military ornaments, sharpening their javelins, and, 
towards evening, executing war-dances. The Basutos, on 
their side, did not remain idle. They carefully barricaded 

* A French traveller, Monsieur Delegorgue, has denied that 
cannibalism has ever existed in South Africa, and has attributed 
what we have said to the desire of giving a dramatic interest to 
our recital. It is a pity that this gentleman has not visited the 
land of the Basutos ; he might have gained information on this 
point in thirty or forty villages, the entire population of which 
is composed of those who were formerly cannibals, and who make 
no secret of their past life. • 



JOURNEYS OP EXPLORATION. 23 

the breaches that time had made in their gigantic 
citadel. The assault was made simultaneously upon 
two opposite points, and was at first terrific. Nothing 
seemed able to arrest the rush of the enemy. Accus- 
tomed to victory, the Zulus advanced in serried ranks, 
not appearing to observe the masses of basalt, which 
came rolling down with a tremendous noise from the top 
of the mountain. But soon there was a general crush — » 
an irresistible avalanche of stones, accompanied by a 
shower of javelins, sent back the assailants with more 
rapidity than they had advanced. The chiefs might 
then be seen rallying the fugitives ; and snatching away 
the plumes with which their heads were decorated, and 
trampling them under foot in a rage, would lead their 
men again towards the formidable rampart. This despe- 
rate attempt succeeded no better than the former one. 
The blow was decisive. The next day the Zulus 
resumed their march, and returned home to their sove- 
reign. At the moment of their departure a Mosuto, 
driving some fat oxen, stopped before the first rank, and 
gave them this message — "Moshesh salutes you. Sup- 
posing that hunger has brought you into this country, he 
sends you these cattle, that you may eat them on your 
way home." 

Some years after, being at Cape Town, I saw there 
some deputies from Moselekatsi. On asking them if 
they knew the chief of the Basutos, they replied quickly, 
" Know him ? yes ! That is the man who, after having 
rolled down rocks on our heads, sent us oxen for food — 



24 THE BASUTOS. 

we will never attack him again!" And they have kept 
their word. 

The struggle with the Korannas was of longer dura- 
tion, and was not quite at an end when Providence led 
us among the Basutos. The preceding details will 
explain to the reader the state of desolation in which the 
country was at the time, and will give an idea of the 
man who had invited us thither. 



25 



CHAPTER II. 

Neither Thaba-Bosio, nor its immediate neighbourhood, 
appeared to us suitable for the settlement that we were 
about to form. The river running at the foot of the 
mountain was too deeply embanked to be turned out of 
its course; and for our purpose of building and agri- 
culture it was necessary to have abundance of water, 
which might be easily directed to any desirable point. 
The chief understood this, and set out with us in search 
of a more favourable locality. Our choice fell on one of 
the most beautiful valleys in the country, which, though 
at a distance of only eight leagues from Thaba-Bosio, 
was entirely uninhabited. It bore the name of Mako- 
arane, but we substituted that of Moriah, which ex- 
pressed our gratitude to God for past mercies, and our 
confidence in him for the future. Moshesh put some 
young men under our command, and led us to hope 
that he would soon come himself with a number of his 
subjects, and settle near us. 

We had halted, and unyoked our beasts near a stream 
in a forest of shrubs. A few strokes with the axe and 
the spade were sufficient to level and clear a space where 
we might form a hearth, and set up the blocks of sand- 



26 THE BASUTOS. 

stone which were henceforth to serve us as seats. There 
we deposited the large saucepan, the frying-pan, the 
gridiron, and kettle, and glad were we to be delivered 
from the noise that these kitchen utensils had made for the 
last two months at every jolt of the waggon. Letsaba, 
the most indefatigable of our companions, was already 
returning from the neighbouring mountain, laden with 
an enormous bundle of olive-branches. The fire was 
soon lighted, and we sat chatting gaily by the crackling 
flame. Nothing is more cheerful than a group of 
African travellers, squatting like gipsies round a blazing 
fire. Under the arch of heaven, the sight of a fire 
replaces all possible elements of comfort. A faint bleat- 
ing that fell upon our ears admonished us to think 
of supper. Some unfortunate sheep were every even- 
ing, after a weary march, offered as victims to our 
cruel appetites. Let us turn our thoughts from this 
deed of darkness, which was performed in a remote 
corner of the scene. Dear reader, you do not know 
how much you are indebted to the butcher in your 
neighbourhood. At the end of half an hour, at the 
most, savoury morsels were hissing on the embers ; and 
those of our party who, had lingered behind were warned 
by the odour that supper was ready, and needed no 
further call. However closely the circle was formed, 
in the twinkling of an eye they found places, elbowing 
their way with a pressure that triumphed over all 
obstacles. We supped first, as was but proper; those 
pieces which were least besprinkled with ashes were 
presented to us on the end of two sticks. At this iri*- 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 27 

teresting moment there was a profound silence, and we 
availed ourselves of it to utter the adorable name of 
Him who provided for all our need. The Basutos 
looked on in amazement, and mechanically repeated 
Amen after us. 

When every one had supped, we set about adding 
a few new words to our little vocabulary. With pencil 
in hand, and head inclined towards the fire, we pointed 
to the object, the name of which was still unknown to 
us, repeating several times, in the most classical accent, 
a King /" (What is it?) Precious monosyllable, which 
ought to figure in golden letters in the dictionary of the 
language of the Basutos! Our men, after laughing a 
great deal at our ignorance, soon grew weary of this 
employment, and found it more agreeable to sing. 

The invasion of the Zulus being still fresh in their 
minds, they were never weary of repeating the song of 
those warriors to their sanguinary chief: " Ako si nike 
ilizue" &c! (Oh king, give us nations to devour!") 
The music was in harmony with the ferocity of the 
words. It would be impossible to imagine anything 
more savage, and yet we listened not unwillingly to 
sounds the discordance of which might have been mis- 
taken for the result of art. Perhaps we found a certain 
charm in these sensations, which enabled us to estimate 
the evils which we were called to remedy. The future 
was unknown to us ; but we had come into these dark 
regions at the express command of our Saviour, and 
everything we observed around us proved the necessity 
of this command. Those scenes which grieved us most 



28 THE BASUTOS. 

enhanced, in our eyes, the value of the Gospel, and the 
importance of our charge. The name of God seemed 
to us sweeter, and more sacred, now that we uttered it 
in places where it had never before been heard. 

The next day we began to think about constructing 
some kind of shelter. The box of tools that we had 
brought from Europe was opened, and my two fellow- 
workers and myself took each of us a hatchet and a saw. 
Plenty of fine trees were to be seen at a little distance 
from the place of our encampment. Sounds of all 
kinds proceeding from the forest warned us to act w r ith 
prudence; we, therefore, took care not to forget our 
guns. The fear of thorns and thistles made us think 
of the strong leathern trowsers which the settlers had 
recommended for our use. This Robinson Crusoe kind 
of accoutrement was not without interest to the former 
frequenters of the garden of the Luxembourg, and we 
set about our work cheerfully and courageously. Un- 
fortunately, my long journeys had only accustomed me 
to walking; after giving a few vigorous strokes with 
the axe I was seized with dizziness, a cloud came before 
my eyes, and I was nearly falling backwards. A little 
rest soon restored me, but this first failure made a deep 
impression on my mind. I foresaw that there would be 
more drawbacks to the charms of a rural life, and that 
the Fortunatos nimium so much admired at college, 
would run a great risk of soon proving to me nothing 
else but a signal deception. It was well for us that one 
of our number had learnt in a village the value of a 
good pair of arms. Our excellent friend, Mr. Gossellin, 



JOUENEYS OF EXPLORATION. 29 

who had joined us in the capacity of a missionary arti- 
san, handled with equal skill the hammer of the stone- 
cutter and the mattock of the husbandman. By a few 
encouraging words he raised my spirits, and prevented 
Mr. Arbousset from losing heart — he taught us to 
husband our strength, and to direct our blows better. 
The result was that in the evening, aided by our men, 
we carried to our encampment an almost sufficient 
quantity of stakes and laths for the construction of the 
modest dwelling, the erection of which we had 
planned. 

It was to be nothing more than a cabin, a little larger 
than the huts of the natives, and in a few days it was 
completed. Some reeds, placed upon four props driven 
into the ground, received our mattresses, and an old 
table and some trunks completed the furniture. The 
guns and the implements of husbandry were suspended 
like trophies from certain projecting points, which our 
primitive columns presented at very irregular intervals. 
It was so long since we had seen anything resembling 
a human habitation, that this poor cabin threw us into 
an ecstasy of admiration. We determined to allow 
ourselves the luxury of a candle without delay. It will 
hardly be credited that, of all the products of our 
industry, this article was the most surprising to the 
natives. They were never weary of coming in the 
evening to contemplate this charming little tongue of 
fire, which was sufficient to light our apartment. What 
an improvement on the bundle of straw which these 
poor creatures burnt, at the risk of being suffocated, 



30 THE BASUTOS. 

whenever they went to fetch anything from the dark 
recesses of their huts ! 

Not being able to foresee what would be the result of 
our visit to Moshesh, we had left a waggon, containing 
the greater part of our baggage, in a village named 
Philippolis, situated on the borders of the colony, and 
inhabited by half-bred Hottentots. 

It was decided that I should go and fetch it as soon 
as we were a little settled in our new abode. It was 
with feelings of deep emotion that I bid my companions 
adieu. I was leaving them in a country that was 
exposed to frequent invasions, with only five or six 
natives, whose language they did not understand. The 
vehicle in which we had travelled, and the servants who 
had accompanied us, were returning with me. It is in 
such moments as these that the name of the God of 
Jacob is a strong refuge. Our first day's march brought 
us near to a mountain standing alone, where some poor 
Basutos lived, who subsisted almost entirely by hunting. 
The most influential man among them, who was named 
Machusa, received us very kindly. " I know," said 
he, "that you are come to do us good. As soon as; 
Moshesh has fixed his residence near you, I will come 
down from this mountain. At present I cannot do so ; 
the Korannas are so terrible that I dare not stir from 
here ; they have reduced us to the last extremity. We: 
know not what to do to escape their guns. We cannot 
ascend to heaven, neither can we sink into the earth." 

Poor Machusa shed tears as he uttered these words. 
I tried to comfort him, and held out to him the hope of 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 31 

better days. He was so grateful for this mark of sym- 
pathy on my part, that he gave me two baskets of native, 
wheat. ; 

The wild beasts caused me much uneasiness during 
this journey. I found the borders of the Caledon in- 
fested with lions, and one of my best draught oxen was 
carried off by them. As we slowly proceeded, I was 
never weary of admiring the gambols and evolutions of 




ANTELOPE EUCHORE. 



the antelopes, with which the country abounded. Upon 
that animal, called by the Dutch the Springbok, science 
has bestowed a name, which is in perfect harmony with 
the grace of its movements. It is, indeed, the antelope 
euchore, and dances to perfection. When this beautiful 
animal performs the bounds peculiar to it, the back 
forms a complete curve; the fawn-coloured hair, that 
covers the croup, opens, and discovers an under-coat 



32 THE BASUT0S. 

of down, of the most dazzling white. The head is 
slightly turned to one side, with an air of defiance and 
disdainful coquetry; the legs elongate, and the feet, 
joining together, form a kind of elastic pivot, which 
touches the ground from time to time, the animal rebound- 
ing to the height of three yards. These bounds succeed 
each other without interruption, like a pebble on the 
water, and with such rapidity that it is impossible for 
the most practised eye to follow the movement of the 
animal's feet when it takes its spring. The Basutos call 
this antelope tsepe, a name which reminds us of Uebi 3 
which the Hebrews gave to the gazelle dorcas. It is 
extremely timid ; and we are assured that thunder pro- 
duces upon this animal the effect .of which David speaks 
in Ps. xxix. 9. The antelope eleotragus is not so light 
in its movements ; but it has beautiful black eyes, 
expressive of extreme gentleness. It is covered with 
ash-coloured hair, of a woolly and curly texture, and 
the horns are bent forward in the form of hooks. 

The blesbok (or white-faced antelope) is as large as 
a full-sized ass; the hair is short, and shot with dif- 
ferent colours, and the horns are curved backwards like 
sickles. 

Of all the animals of South Africa the gnu has the 
most extraordinary form : it has the eyes, nostrils, and 
colour of the buffalo, the feet of the antelope, the mane 
and body of the ass, the neck and shoulders of the horse, 
which it resembles also in its movements. The horns 
bend downwards perpendicularly to the level of the 
eyes; and then forming nearly a right angle, sweep 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 



33 



suddenly forwards in the most formidable manner. The 
habits of the animal are no ]ess singular than its appear- 
ance ; there is an air of threatening in its movements, 
and it brandishes its tail violently, in the same manner as 
the lion. When it is taken by surprise, it turns suddenly 
round and stops, advances a few steps towards the object 
of its alarm, and then darts forward again with terrible 
force and rapidity. 




Herds of gnus may often be seen to form a circle, 
and amuse themselves by chasing each other, without 
breaking through the ring: they seem to delight in the 
whirlwinds of dust raised in the air by their antics. 

The flesh of all these antelopes is esteemed as food, 
though we preferred that of the orcas or eland, which 
somewhat resembles beef in taste. It is about the size 
of an ox; and when it is fat, falls an easy prey to a 
well-mounted hunter. 



34 THE BASUT0S. 

The lions hunt here with so much success, that they 
generally content themselves with selecting the prime 
parts of their victims. I once found lying across my 
path a magnificent antelope, still warm, the entrails only 
having been devoured by one of these dainty hunters, 
who had opened the body of the unfortunate animal in 
a masterly manner with one stroke of his claw. I did 
not scruple to carry off the delicate morsels that he had 
left in disdain. 

I was privileged to see one of these potentates of the 
desert at his repast. He was stretched at his ease over 
his prey, which he seemed to find to his taste, while a 
crowd of hyenas and jackals stealthily approached, and 
watched, with envious eye, the rapid movements of his 
jaws. Slate-coloured vultures, too, came whirling down 
from the clouds ; and with folded wings, stretching out 
their bare necks and uttering piercing cries, jumped in 
a most ridiculous manner towards the object of their 
greedy desire. As long as the ignoble herd kept at a 
respectful distance, the lion allowed them to scream 
and growl, and make as much noise as they liked ; but 
the hungry circle drawing nearer and nearer, and the 
inner ranks yielding to the pressure of those outside, the 
movement, timid at first, became more and more im- 
petuous, and threatened to turn into a regular assault. 
Then his majesty, justly incensed, casting a side-glance 
at his parasites, leaped with a single bound into the 
midst of the most daring, striking right and left with 
his terrible fist. A scene of general confusion ensued; 
the jackals escaped first; the hyenas, heavier in their 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 35 

movements, made the best of their way after them, 
causing great disorder among the vultures, too slow to 
take a hasty flight. The lion stopped a moment, as if 
to recover from the emotion that the audacity of this 
miserable rabble had caused him, and then returned 
slowly to his dinner. 

Their feline majesties, however, know how to divide 
the spoil when it suits them. One of my friends, who 
was a traveller, related to me the following incident. 
He was resting in the shade of a few shrubs, watching 
a troop of zebras quietly feeding, when suddenly a lion 
appeared, pounced on the finest of the herd, and brought 
it to the ground. This done, he contemplated his victim 
with satisfaction ; and, turning round, commenced rub- 
bing his body against it. After some time, however, 
he seemed to be in deep thought, looked steadfastly in 
a certain direction, and roared repeatedly. At length 
he seemed to perceive, in the distance, some object of 
interest; and, advancing towards it, soon returned, fol- 
lowed by a lioness and two cubs, whom he led cour- 
teously to the feast he had prepared for them, laying 
Limself down at some little distance. The lioness and 
her young ones needed no pressing, and took their time 
over their banquet, the father of the family looking on 
with the utmost good humour, as if he himself had no 
appetite at all; till, suddenly raising his head with an 
air of determination, he examined what still remained 
of the zebra, and leaping up with a roar, sent away his 
partner, with her little ones, and lay quietly down to 
enjoy his meal. 



36 THE BASUTOS. 

The country we were travelling over was almost as 
new to my men as it was to myself. We went straight 
on as mariners do, simply taking care not to lose sight 
of that point in the horizon which we wished to reach. 
This hazardous journey was, as may be supposed, accom- 
panied by fatigues and adventures of every kind. Now 
it was a rocky ascent, that it was absolutely necessary to 
climb, at the risk of breaking our wheels ; now a deep 
ravine arrested our progress in the most unexpected 
manner. There was one in particular, where we were 
obliged to stop, and, standing at the edge, we looked 
down with feelings of terror into the depth we had to 
cross. I stopped the waggon, to see if there were no 
means of getting round the obstacle, but in vain ; after 
having wandered about a long time, we were forced to 
acknowledge the uselessness of our search, and to set 
about crossing in the best manner possible. I hoped that 
the oxen, aided by the impetus acquired in the descent, 
would manage to get up the other side ; but the poor 
animals, fatigued with their long journey, refused to 
move, and the two hindermost fell down under their 
yokes. To increase our difficulties we had not a single 
tool, for we had left them all behind with my friends, 
who had intended to get through a great deal of work 
during my absence. My men unyoked the oxen, in 
order that the poor enfeebled animals might at least 
profit by the delay ; then, arming ourselves with pointed 
staves and sharp stones, we set about making a road. 
As there were but four of us, this was a work of time, 
and it was not till towards evening that we gained the 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 37 

other side of the ravine, where, to our dismay, a still 
more serious evil awaited us. The natives, towards the 
end of the winter, are accustomed to burn the dry and 
tufted grass which covers the country, in order that 
their flocks may find abundant pasturage as soon as 
spring sets in. The lightest breeze is sufficient to spread 
the flames; they climb the heights, descend into the 
depths, follow all the irregularities of the soil, and at 
night paint upon the dark canvas of the sky mountains 
and valleys which seem not of this world. On issuing 
from our unfortunate ravine, we found ourselves hemmed 
in by one of these lines of fire, and as to return was out 
of the question, we were absolutely compelled to force a 
passage through the flames. This was done without 
hesitation by the natives who accompanied me. Per- 
ceiving a place where the flames burned with less 
intensity, they rushed into it, and laying about them on 
all sides with their ample mantles of skins, they had 
soon extinguished a space sufficient for us to pass without 
danger. 

The country through which we were travelling 
showed no signs of being inhabited: the only people 
who passed through it were the Korannas — those Be- 
douins of South Africa who had done so much injury 
to the Basutos. One evening, before we had halted 
for the night, and while we were still on our march, 
the chief of these brigands, accompanied only by a 
boy, passed my waggon, without seeming to notice us, 
and was immediately recognised by my men ; one of 
them darted towards my gun, and would have fired 



38 THE BASUTOS. 

upon the enemy of his tribe, if I had not prevented him. 
This incident made more impression on me than any 
that occurred during this adventurous journeys proving 
that man is often more savage than the brute. 

I arrived at Philippolis a week after my departure 
from Moriah, but soon quitted it again to visit Mr. Pel- 
lissier, who was residing at fifteen leagues distance. 
The station of Motito not furnishing sufficient employ- 
ment for the activity of three missionaries, he had left 
his colleagues, Messrs. Lemue and Rolland, to evangelise 
the Bechuanas, who had been driven by fear of Mosele- 
katsi to take refuge on the borders of the Cape Colony. 
These scattered remnants of divers tribes had assembled 
at the call of our friend, and under his directions had 
formed a town, containing three or four thousand inha- 
bitants, which afterwards received the name of Bethulie. 
Thus, while we were forming a settlement at Moriah, not 
far from the sources of the Caledon, another station was 
springing up at fifty-two leagues distance, near the spot 
where that river falls into the Orange. I spent several 
days at this settlement, and it was beautiful to see the 
activity of the Bechuanas. In a few weeks they had 
constructed their cabins and cleared a vast extent of 
ground. More than three hundred of them were present 
at divine service every sabbath; and if the building 
had been sufficiently large, the number of the audience 
would have been doubled immediately. 

One day, as I was walking with my friend, we saw 
at some distance a troop of horsemen advancing rapidly 
towards us. They were Korannas, returning from one 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 39 

of their marauding expeditions, and bringing with them 
a number of cattle. They were soon close to us, and as 
if to show us how little they cared for our disapproval, 
they unsaddled their horses and exposed to our view the 
fruits of their expedition. We could not restrain our 
indignation, and exclaimed in Dutch, which language 
they perfectly understood, " Wretches ! from whom have 
you taken these cattle?" — "From the Tembukis," an- 
swered the chief of the band, coolly. — " And, doubtless, 
you have imbrued your hands in innocent blood?" — 
" We have killed several Caffres." — " If you do not fear 
their assagais, do you not fear the judgment of God?" 
At this a young man advanced, shaking his riding-whip 
at me furiously, and said, " We know that you are going 
to reside near Moshesh ; go and tell him, that as soon as 
our horses are rested we are coming to attack him." 

The moment of departure was at hand ; I took with 
me, besides the baggage that I had come in search of, 
some cereals, the culture of which we wished to intro- 
duce, a quantity of vine-shoots, and fruit-trees of dif- 
ferent kinds. Adam, the same half-caste Hottentot who 
had acted as our guide on the first journey, had deter- 
mined to come and reside at Moriah, and his little 
caravan now joined mine. He did Hot conceal from me 
that he was seriously uneasy about our safety, having 
heard reports of certain plans formed by the Korannas to 
hinder my returning into the land of the Basutos. I 
therefore decided upon hiring several armed men as an 
escort. 

Our route leading us near the residence of one of 



40 THE BASUTOS. 

the allies of our adversaries, Adam went to gain what 
information he could on the subject, and returned with 
news which quite dissipated all our fears. The Korannas 
having committed depredations on the government lands 
of the Cape, a number of colonists had taken the field 
against them, and forced them to flee towards the north. 
Thus I was enabled to continue my journey without fear 
of being attacked, and returning thanks to God, dis- 
missed my escort with a slight reward. 



41 



CHAPTER III. 

I reached Moriah in safety, after an absence of seven 
weeks. No sooner did the Basutos perceive the waggons 
approaching than they ran to meet us ; every one 
of them insisted on shaking hands with me, and their 
countenances showed the joy they felt at seeing me 
again. My colleagues awaited my arrival at the scene 
of labour : I found them perched upon the top of their 
hut, which they were busily engaged in covering with 
a layer of mortar. They had none but joyful news to com- 
municate; Moshesh continued to show the kind feeling 
he had at first manifested, and his eldest son had come 
with a numerous retinue to take up his abode at Moriah. 

And now began in earnest our apprenticeship to a 
missionary life in a savage country. 

The beasts of prey, attracted by some cattle that I 
had brought from Philippolis, seemed to appoint a general 
place of meeting around our rising hamlet. First came 
the lions and strangled our poor Tobit — a pretty little 
pony that was a favourite with us all — which they 
devoured two or three hundred steps from our door; 
they next attacked a mare, upon which, like the woman 
in the fable, we had founded hopes of a very fine stud. 



42 THE BASUTOS. 

The hyenas did not attempt to attack such large 
animals, but our sheep seemed to suit their fancy very 
well. The poor things were shut up every night in an 
enclosure, consisting of four walls, which we had hastily 
set up. Hardly were they in the fold when howlings on 
all sides announced a general assault. At first we set 
up a mock-man to defend our property, thinking that the 
hyenas of this country had not yet had an opportunity 
of studying our race closely enough to enable them to 
distinguish between a living white man and one without 
life, especially when the latter stood before them in 
gigantic proportions, the body leaning forward, the eyes 
concealed by an old broad-brimmed hat, and the hand 
raised and armed with a formidable club. 

I do not know what they thought of this man of 
straw, but they continued their robberies under his very 
nose. We next determined to fix a large lantern to 
the door of the fold, but still our flock continued to 
diminish ; and one very dark night the number of the 
victims amounted to twelve. It was now absolutely neces- 
sary for us to make resistance in person. There being 
three of us, the night was necessarily divided into three 
watches, during which each of us mounted guard in 
turn. We now had ample means of studying the tactics 
of our savage rivals ; dreading our guns much less than 
our dogs, it seemed to be their chief aim to disable the 
latter for combat by excessive fatigue, and to this end 
they commenced, as soon as night set in, an interminable 
series of marches and countermarches, approaches and 
retreats, accompanied by the most threatening yells. 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLOHATION. 43 

The dogs exerted themselves to the utmost, not resting 
a moment for hours together, till, with the approach of 
dawn, the howlings were heard at longer intervals, 
seeming to grow more distant, and calm was gradually 
restored. The dogs, thinking the danger was over, lay 
themselves down to rest, when all at once the silence 
was broken by a dreadful uproar, — the sheep were 
thrown into terrible confusion, dogs and masters jumped 
up, shouting and barking at the thief. It was too 
late. This treacherous plan rarely failed. The assault 
was so unexpected, and made with such rapidity, that, 
even while we stood sentinels in the fold ready for any 
emergency, the hyena entered, seized his prey and car- 
ried it off, before we had time to take aim and fire our 
guns. 

Finding open war so unfavourable, we had recourse 
to snares and poison, in which we were much more 
successful. 

The lions appeared as little disposed as the hyenas to 
abandon to us their ancient dwelling-place ; they worried 
our flocks unceasingly, and at times watched us with an 
audacity that foreboded no good to ourselves ; we there- 
fore came to the resolution of turning them out of their 
strongholds. Ten of our party were hunters ; my friend 
Gossellin and myself, Adam and some of his relations. 
The first thing to be done was to beat the plain, to find 
the tracks of our adversaries, and we soon discovered 
some quite recent, which led us to the top of a mountain, 
situated about a quarter of a league from the station. On 
arriving there we separated into two parties, in order 



44 THE BASUTOS. 

better to explore the table-land. I left Gossellin and 
proceeded towards the left, followed by three men \ we 
iiad hardly advanced a few steps when a magnificent lion 
appeared ; he belonged to that variety designated by the 
Cape Colonists under the name of zwart leeuw (black 
lion), on account of the blackish hue of his mane, and is 
distinguished from the common species by his extreme 
ferocity. I estimated the length of this animal to be not 
less than seven feet from the nose to the root of the tail. 
He stopped an instant to look at us, but we urged our 
horses into a gallop, and he took refuge behind a rock ; 
on arriving about fifty paces from him we alighted and 
fired, but, protected by the rampart he had chosen, no 
ball seemed to touch him, though the detonation irritated 
him ; he bristled up his mane and uttered a hollow roar. 
We were preparing to fire a second time, when he quitted 
his retreat, and we continued to pursue him till h6 
reached a bush, where he waited our arrival : he seemed 
resolved not to stir from here, and from his posture we 
judged that he was preparing to spring upon one of us. 
Our position now became very dangerous ; all the dogs 
had followed the other party. I had three men with me, 
one of whom threatened flight, and another was so deaf 
he could hardly hear the orders, or the counsels that were 
mutually given. We therefore decided to go in search 
of the rest of our party, and on reaching them found 
them engaged with a lioness ; as she made a good deal of 
resistance, we were obliged to leave the lion for a few 
moments and join the party. The lioness, after having 
made several attempts to spring upon us, retired into the 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 45 

clefts of a rock ; in order to dislodge her, we excited the 
dogs, and she very soon left her retreat : a good-sized 
bullet hit her in the abdomen, and made such a wound 
that a part of the entrails trailed upon the ground. She 
now became mad with rage, and the rapidity of her 
movements prevented our aiming with precision at a 
vital part. 

It was well for us that we had good dogs ; these ad- 
mirable creatures returned again and again to the charge, 
and even ventured to bite the legs of our terrible enemy, 
suddenly arresting her at the moment she was about to 
spring upon us ; they received many scratches in the 
combat, and one of them was left dead on the battle- 
field. At length, after half an-hour's struggle, the lioness 
was killed by a ball through the neck ; it was her four- 
teenth wound. We soon set off in search of the male^ 
but he had wisely descended the mountain, and Ave did 
not find him again. 

The news of what had happened must have circu- 
lated rapidly among the lions of the country, for, since 
that hunt, they never appeared again at the station. 

The plants that I had brought succeeded wonder- 
fully ; but the culture of the cereals was attended with 
great difficulty. We had with much labour cleared 
and sown a fine piece of ground, which ought to have 
been enclosed by a wall or a strong fence. Alas ! 
we ourselves lacked sufficient protection from the in- 
clemency of the weather, and invasions of every kind 
with which we were threatened. Our wheat came up 
admirably, and grew in the most satisfactory manner 



46 THE BASUTOS. 

as long as it escaped the observation of the cattle at the 
station ; but, one unlucky day, some cows happened to 
crop a few mouthfuls of this corn. From that time 
we had no more rest : one would have thought that 
these indiscreet creatures had communicated their dis- 
covery to all the horned population of the place. While 
the approach of a hyena made us rush toward the 
sheepfold, we were warned by loud bellowings that 
other ravages were being committed ; and quickly 
throwing down the guns, we armed ourselves with long 
whips, with which we lacerated without mercy the 
hides of the depredators. But it was labour lost ; the 
struggle was becoming more and more desperate, when, 
fortunately for our health, it was terminated by a visit 
from Moshesh. This worthy sovereign did us the honour 
of coming to see us in great pomp, at the head of a 
numerous cavalcade. This incident so diverted our 
minds from their habitual pre-occupations, that, for a 
whole night, the horses of our guests ravaged the fields 
which had not yet been invaded by the oxen. 

Fortunately, a few bushels for seed were still left ; 
but we were obliged to resolve to eat no more bread, 
and we felt the privation so much the more, as we had 
no more salt. Every one knows what a hash of mutton 
is without vegetables or seasoning. For the sake of a 
little change we tried the food which formed the sus- 
tenance of our neighbours, and soon came to consider 
as dainties roasted locusts, ostrich eggs, and slices of 
zebra and eland ; we have even gone so far as to taste 
lions' flesh, and found it very like veal in flavour. 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 47 

Our cooking was generally performed in the open 
air, and was intrusted to the care of a Mossuto, who 
was kind enough to officiate as cook. It would have 
been impossible to find what we call a servant in all 
the country ; honest Enkasi had heroically risen above 
the national prejudice, which stigmatises with the name 
of woman whoever draws water, lights a fire, or has the 
charge of the saucepans. But if he had sacrificed the 
vanity of his sex, he had by no means given up his 
liberty, and provided he took care (grosso modo) that 
we did not starve, his conscience was satisfied : thus, it 
frequently happened that a hunting-party, a dance, or 
any other event of equal importance, robbed us of our 
Vatel in the most unexpected manner. In such a case 
we generally had recourse to extreme means, — seized 
the first-comer by the collar, and installed him, nolens 
volens, at the hearth, which always excited loud shouts 
of laughter from the rest of the party. The supple- 
mentary cook did not fail to exhort Enkasi, on his 
return, to be more mindful of the requirements of the 
white men of Moshesh. 

All these minor miseries were easy enough to bear 
as long as the season was favourable. At twenty-five 
years of age, in the enjoyment of good health, and 
blessed with the approving smile of a Heavenly Father, 
one does not much mind a few privations. Indeed, in 
what path of life are we not exposed to them ? But an 
unexpected change in the state of the atmosphere un- 
fortunately had a most depressing effect upon our spirits, 

We had arrived among the Basutos in the winter, 



48 THE BASUTOS. 

which is in this country the driest season in the year. 
One fine day succeeded another without interruption. 
We had heard so much of the scorching climate of 
Africa, and had been so earnestly recommended to fix 
our abode near streams adapted to the purpose of irri- 
gation, that we never imagined we should experience 
any inconvenience from rain. There could surely be 
no more than passing showers. The roof of our cabin 
had been made under the influence of these ideas, and 
consisted of a thin layer of reeds, bound rather loosely 
to the rafters which formed their support; the rafters 
themselves were not sufficiently slanting to cause the 
water to run off quickly, and the consequence was, the 
first heavy shower we had produced upon us the effect 
of a shower-bath. This amused us very much — it was, 
doubtless, an accidental occurrence. But week after 
week these shower-baths became more frequent and 
more copious, and we at length determined to give the 
entire surface of our roof a coat of mortar. The remedy 
aggravated the evil; the rafters gave way under the 
weight, and soon, instead of an umbrella, we had a 
funnel over our heads. The rains of that country are 
wild, like everything else. From the month of No- 
vember to April, the north wind blows over from the 
swamps of Mozambique masses of cloud, which sweep 
heavily over the earth, darkening the sky, and pre- 
ceded in their course by dreadful peals of thunder. 
On reaching the high land, the aerial lake is shut in 
by the mountains of the Malutis ; a rapid condensation 
takes place, which destroys the equilibrium, and a veri- 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 49 

table deluge ensues. In a few moments cataracts rush 
from the mountain heights, the smallest rivulets are 
transformed into torrents, and the rivers overflowing 
their banks cover the plains ; this sometimes lasts for 
days together. During these inundations we literally 
did not know where to put ourselves : we generally 
remained lying down, heaping upon our miserable beds 
all the impermeable objects we could lay hands on. The 
natives, huddled together in their huts, took care not 
to come and make any inquiries about us ; being gifted 
themselves with the extraordinary faculty of laying in a 
store of food, as the camel does of water, they thought 
it quite natural to await the return of the fine weather 
before lighting the fires. 

During these hours of inactivity and of compulsory 
fasting we devised the plan of a solid stone house, twenty- 
four feet by eighteen, which was to contain five rooms 
and a large kitchen. 

The first stone was laid with great ceremony. One 
may judge of the serious nature of this undertaking by 
the reflections which it suggested to my companion, Mr. 
Arbousset. The day the stone was laid he wrote as 
follows: — " Without adopting the opinion of an author 
of much celebrity, and without applying to the evange- 
lical Missionary what that writer has said of the priest, 
6 That around him mystery should reign, and that he 
should not often appear among men/ we nevertheless 
believe that he ought, in some way, to command respect ; 
and experience has proved that a grave demeanour, a 
spacious dwelling, order in the domestic arrangements, 

E 



50 THE BASUTOS. 

and cleanliness in everything, are at least some of the 
means which favourably prepossess the simple and unin- 
structed mind." 

Alas ! how matter-of-fact we become as we grow old! 
Now, my friend would say that he built the house for the 
preservation of his health. 

Ours were evidently in great danger. Colds, rheu- 
matism, and fevers of all kinds, would have been the 
natural results of our almost aquatic life, and yet we had 
nothing of the kind ; we had never been better in our 
lives: a loving and all-powerful Father was watching 
over us, and He did not permit us to suffer the natural 
consequences of our inexperience. 

We laboured for six months, without any relaxation, 
at our new dwelling, and were in such a hurry to enter 
it, that we installed ourselves before the roof was 
completed, or a single door put up. The Basutos 
watched our proceedings, and asked each other why, if 
we wanted a cavern, we did not go and inhabit one of 
those which abound in the Malutis ? 

In the meantime, some Methodist Missionaries, who 
had been driven from the borders of the Fal by prolonged 
droughts, and by the fear of Moselekatsi, emigrated with 
their converts into the country of the Basutos, and 
obtained permission of Moshesh to settle at Thabanchu, 
Umpukani, and Platberg — the nearest of these stations 
being about thirty-five miles from Moriah. The arrival 
of these missionaries reminded us that we belonged to a 
civilised race, and we hastened to go and welcome them. 
The bonds of Christian brotherhood were soon formed 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 51 

between us ; and it was arranged that we should see one 
another and correspond as often as possible. Our new 
friends were married, and I still blush at the remem- 
brance of the extreme awkwardness and shyness with 
which we responded to the civilities shown us by their 
ladies. It is sad to say, that though we had selected 
from our wearing-apparel what was most presentable, 
our toilet was not of a nature to inspire us with any 
confidence; we ought, however, to have guessed that 

this would onlv be another recommendation to the bene- 

t/ 

volence of the ladies. A few days after our return a 
horseman alighted at our door, bringing us a basketful 
of biscuits, and a very kind letter, requesting that those 
articles of our wardrobe which stood most in need of 
repair might be forwarded immediately. 

This little incident corrected, in some measure, the 
shade of stoical roughness that our characters had already 
acquired. 

The study of the language of the Basutos supplied us 
with a mental exercise, which produced a favourable 
reaction on our hearts. There are in the idioms of this 
language words magical, on account of their poetry, 
metaphors, sometimes naive, sometimes brilliant or full 
of fire, the discovery of which completely charmed us. 
We visited Moshesh very frequently, and to him we were 
in a great measure indebted for our rapid progress. He 
contrived, by means of an ingenious pantomime, to explain 
to us some very delicate points of similarity between 
words, and sometimes even abstract ideas. 

In these primitive languages there exists, almost 



52 THE BASUTOS. 

invariably, in addition to the proper term, a figurative 
and picturesque expression, which greatly facilitates 
research. It is by the help of poetry that we arrive 
at prose. 

If the ear be at all sensitive, one finds a powerful aid 
in the observation of the sounds themselves. Such words 
as, lilelo (tears), elela (to flow), leseli (light), naleli 
(star), serotoli (drop), molelo (fire), leleme (tongue), lela- 
habe (flame), are to the ear what a picture would be to 
the eye. These harmonious combinations of liquid con- 
sonants can only represent bodies of a light, fluid, spark- 
ling nature. The t and th are reserved for the clash of 
resisting bodies: thata (hard), tea (to strike), tua (to 
pound). There are words whose every syllable seems 
to have been cleverly put together to form a perfect 
onomatopoeia. Such is phefumuluah (to breathe). Mark 
the sound : phe, the lips open with a slight noise ; fu, the 
breath escapes by the mouth; mu, by the nose; luah, 
the chest dilates, and the air is discharged. Again: 
analyse boroho (sleep) ; the respiration stops for an instant, 
as is the case with a person in a profound sleep, and then 
recommences with a sort of explosion (bo), then a slight 
rattle is heard (ro), and the last effort of the dia- 
phragm to free the lungs entirely causes the uvula to 
emit a slight cracking sound (ko). The vowel does not 
change, for nothing is so monotonous as the breathing of 
a sleeper. 

There had appeared to us, at first, little resemblance 
between the language of the Basutos and that of the 
Bechuanas of the north-west; but it soon became 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 53 

evident to us that the differences chiefly arose from 
certain changes of letters, and that these changes were 
subject to fixed rules. From that time forward we 
were able to use some little attempts at translation, 
which had just been made by Mr. Moffat, of Kuruman, 
and we also availed ourselves of a paradigm arranged 
by our colleagues at Motito. 



54 



CHAPTER IV. 

After a year's sojourn at Moriah I was called to Beth- 
ulie, Mr. Holland being there on a visit, and desiring to 
speak to me about an important project. Mounted on an 
excellent pony, and guided by a man who was perfectly 
acquainted with the country, I performed the journey in 
two days, and had nothing to complain of but the cock 
of the rifle I carried with a shoulder-belt, and which, 
beating time most unmercifully to the gallop of my 
horse, ended by seriously damaging first my coat, and 
then my back. It is true we had the pleasure of sending 
some shot at some hyenas, which were stretched luxu- 
riously under the shade of a solitary olive-tree. They 
saw us pass with the most perfect indifference, and with- 
out doing us the honour of rising at our appearance. 

Bethulie had made much more rapid progress than 
Moriah. The chief of the locality, named Lepuy, was 
a man of no great intelligence, but docile, and desirous 
of instruction. Four hundred natives constantly attended 
public worship, the women taking their little children 
with them, in order not to be deprived of the privilege of 
being present. Mr. and Mrs. Pellissier kept a day-school, 
which was very well attended, and it was interesting to 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 55 

see a large number of girls assembled round my friend's 
wife, endeavouring to manufacture for themselves be- 
coming and decent clothing. 

There I saw for the first time our elder brother, Mr. 
Holland. He was returning from the colony, where he 
had married an English lady, to whom Cape Town and 
its dependencies are indebted for the introduction of 
Infant Schools. 

These friends were about to return soon to Motito, 
and purposed going from that place on a mission to Mo- 
selekatsi; they expressed a wish to have me as a co- 
labourer, but, after having examined the question in all 
its aspects, I did not consider that I could conscientiously 
leave the field of labour in which the Lord had placed 
me and my friends, Arbousset and Gossellin. 

When the time for my departure arrived, I found 
that the native who had accompanied me thither was no 
longer at my disposal, and I was compelled to set off on 
my journey with some of the inhabitants of Bethulie, who 
had never visited the country of the Basutos. 

Our first day's march, or rather gallop, was cheerful 
enough; the localities were familiar to my travelling 
companions, who remembered to have hunted there 
more than once. We halted for the night in a little 
grotto carpeted with moss, near to a spring of fresh and 
limpid water, which appeared to us delightful. The 
next day found us wandering over interminable plains, 
where the eye sought in vain for some object on which 
to fix. Myriads of antelopes darkened our horizon by 
the clouds of dust they raised in their precipitous flight. 



56 THE BASTJT0S, 

Having no compass, I regulated our march by the sun's 
course, and endeavoured to free my mind from every 
preoccupation which might make me lose sight of the 
point to which our steps should be directed. My 
travelling companions were rendered uneasy by my 
silence; they concluded that I was leading them on hap- 
hazard; and towards nightfall burst forth into re- 
proaches and exclamations of regret because I could 
not tell them exactly how many hours' journey we were 
from Mori ah. Night surprised us on the top of an arid 
hill, where we sought in vain for some brushwood to 
light a fire ; and hardly had we unsaddled our horses 
when we were warned, by distant roarings, that the 
night would not be passed without danger. It was a 
winter night of fourteen hours. Worn out with fatigue, 
hunger, and thirst, we had hardly strength enough left 
to speak to each other. 

Having recommended ourselves to God, we lay down 
upon the rock, taking care to load our guns and place 
them near us. And thus, with palpitating hearts, we 
listened in silence to the lugubrious sounds wafted to us 
by the winds of the desert. Alarm reigned around us ; 
for hollow roars continued to resound in the distance. 
Multitudes of antelopes were bounding over the plain 
below, uttering from time to time little plaintive cries, 
intermingled with a sort of sneeze, which seemed to 
denote petulance as well as timidity ; and we heard dis- 
tinctly the stamp of the gnu in the low ground, and the 
gallop of the quaggas, bounding to the heights in order 
better to snuff the air, and to determine by the scent 



JOUKNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 57 

from which side came the enemy whose terrible voice 
they had heard. The screaming of the jackal rose above 
the tumult, and seemed like an infernal laugh preluding 
the horrors of the carnage. At times all these sounds 
ceased, as if by magic, and we heard nothing but the 
noise made by our horses in eating, or the light rustling 
of a few blades of grass shaken by the wind. These 
terrible pauses increased our horror ; the thickest dark- 
ness reigned around us, and we saw, in imagination, the 
inexorable lion approaching with stealthy step towards 
us. I endeavoured to drive this picture from my mind, 
and to substitute the promises that the Lord has made 
to His children. 

Our position soon became extremely dangerous, three 
lions were prowling about not far off; seeming some- 
times to advance in our direction, then to remain sta- 
tionary ; returning to their former spot only to approach 
us again» While one of these monsters would make 
the desert echo with the majestic sounds of his voice, 
the others answered him in short and abrupt roars, the 
sharpness of which seemed to have in them something 
almost metallic. I regretted being unable to enjoy this 
concert in a tranquil frame of mind ; but I confess that 
fear overcame every other feeling, and I was only kept 
calm by recalling the words which a tender mother had 
taught me to repeat in my infancy: — 

" God, who sustains my faith, 
Is ever near to me, 
And He doth never sleep." 



58 THE BASUT0S. 

Truly He slept not, but preserved us from all evil. 
After several long hoars of anguish and perplexity, we 
had the happiness of seeing the morning star rise in the 
horizon ; and soon the first glimmering of dawn enabled 
us to perceive that our horses had escaped the danger 
as well as ourselves. My Bechuanas, relieved from 
their fears, wrapped themselves up in their sheepskins, 
and were soon asleep, while I went to the top of a 
neighbouring mountain to discover, if possible, where 
we were. I know not if Balboa, when he discovered 
the Pacific Ocean, uttered a more heartfelt cry of joy 
than that with which I saluted the peak which over- 
looks the station at Moriah. We, had still a ride of four 
hours before us, which we had to make fasting; but, 
after the horrors of the night, anything would have 
seemed easy to bear. 

The population of Moriah increased from day to day, 
and gathered around the young chiefs Letsie and Molapo, 
who had been placed with us by Moshesh, their father. 
This was a great encouragement to us; and we redoubled 
those efforts which should enable us to preach the Gospel 
to the Basutos in their own language. 

Towards the middle of the second year of our sojourn 
among these people we succeeded in making some short 
compositions, which, though still very defective, were at 
least clear, intelligible, and free from that verbosity 
which always accompanies a laborious translation. The 
subject of our little essays was generally furnished by 
some simple and interesting Bible narrative, from which 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 59 

we deduced two or three lessons suited to the capacity 
of our auditors. To facilitate the matter, we did not 
confine ourselves to a literal translation of Holy Scrip- 
ture, but were satisfied if we gave the general meaning ; 
and on Saturday we submitted these feeble productions 
of the week to each other's inspection, as much for sug- 
gesting any improvement to be made in them, as for our 
common instruction and benefit. 

At the commencement of the year 1835, my two 
colleagues were obliged to absent themselves for some 
length of time. Mr. Arbousset departed for Cape Town, 
and Mr. Gossellin went to lend the aid of his vigorous 
arm to Mr. Pellissier, our friend at Bethulie. This was 
the most trying season of my whole sojourn in Africa; 
for several months, in addition to the irksomeness of 
solitude, I was harassed with doubts as to the stability of 
the work we had undertaken. 

About the beginning of the month of February I 
was rendered very uneasy by alarming rumours from 
all sides. The Korannas, it was said, would soon attack 
Moshesh ; their spies had been seen prowling about the 
country. These reports seemed to me at bottom so 
little deserving of credit, that I had nearly forgotten 
them, when a messenger from Moshesh came to announce 
to me that the Korannas were not far off, and that it was 
most probable they would first attack Moriah. This 
message reached me about eight o'clock in the evening ; 
and although it was so late, I thought it my duty to set 
off immediately for Bosio, to assure myself of the accu- 
racy of the report. I reached Moshesh at two o'clock 



60 THE BASUTOS. 

in the morning; our chief was in great consternation, 
and busy in making defensive preparations. He seemed 
pleased to see me. I asked him to give me proofs of the 
veracity of those persons who had given him the in- 
formation, and after some inquiries on the subject, it 
was discovered that they could not found their assertions 
on any positive fact. I returned to Moriah greatly 
relieved. 

Two days afterwards, I was suddenly awakened in 
the middle of the night by Matete, one of the counsellors 
of Letsie. " Open the door," cried he. " Light a candle 
quickly ; the Korannas are upon us, and this time we 
are dead men if we do not defend ourselves." I opened 
the door, and asked him where the Korannas had been 
seen. " They have not been seen," he replied ; "but the 
Linohe have spoken, and all that they foretell will cer 
tainly happen." — " What are the Linohe V 1 — " They are 
our diviners ; two of them declared yesterday with tears 
that we should all be massacred." — " If that is all, we 
may lie down again without fear ; your diviners are mis- 
taken, or they seek to deceive you." — " What! you do 
not believe our diviners, and yet we believe all that you 
say about God ! " This answer astonished me ; neverthe- 
less, I tried to explain to my interlocutor that we had 
solid grounds for our faith in God, while for his super- 
stitions he had none at all. He quitted me, less aston- 
ished at my incredulity, and said as he went away, " We 
have remarked ourselves that our diviners are often 
mistaken, we shall see how it will be this time ; mean- 
while pray to Jehovah in our favour." 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 6 1 

Till now, all these alarms had not ended in anything 
serious, but real trials were soon to follow ; the Basutos 
were preparing, in their turn, to carry death and devas- 
tation among their enemies. 

The inhabitants of the station informed me one day 
that they were all going to hunt on the morrow, and 
some of them asked leave to sharpen their spears on our 
grindstone, in order that they might strike a larger 
number of antelopes. I saw others preparing sandals, 
and I remarked that they had painted their faces as they 
do when they go to war. At ten o'clock next morning 
Moshesh arrived, with a troop of horsemen; he dis- 
mounted at my door, and, without giving himself time 
to salute me, he asked, in a hollow voice, what I had 
done with his children. I coolly replied, that they were 
gone a-hunting. " What ! gone a-hunting ? They are 
gone against the Korannas. My sons have deceived me ; 
let us go after them : I hope we shall be able to stop 
them. Come with me ; you are their father ; they will 
obey you, and you will bring them back by gentle 
means." He informed me at the same time that a body 
of three or four hundred men were expected, and that if 
Letsie and Molapo would not desist from their project, 
they would be compelled to do so by force of arms. 
These words decided me to go with him; it was important 
to prove to Moshesh that I was in no wise a partaker in 
the ambitious designs of his sons, and I thought also that 
I might act the part of peacemaker on this occasion. 
After a march of a day and a half we came to a hill, 
about ten or twelve leagues from the village of the 



62 THE BASTJTOS. 

Korannas. Letsie, Molapo, and their troop, were 
encamped behind a mass of rocks which crowned the 
hill, waiting the approach of night to resume their 
march. Their spies had returned : all was in readiness ; 
a few hours more, and the Korannas would be hemmed 
in on all sides. 

When we were within two gun-shots of the troop we 
dismounted near a running brook, and two men were 
sent to Letsie, desiring him to return to us immediately : 
at the same instant the scouts arrived, and seated 
themselves quietly at our side, with that air of indifference 
which the Mochuana knows so well how to assume on 
the most critical occasions. Moshesh was quenching his 
thirst at the brook ; presently, he came also, and throwing 
himself listlessly on the grass, asked Nau, his chief 
officer, what these men were saying: then, without 
waiting a reply, he rose, and with eyes flashing with rage, 
fired a pistol point-blank at one of the spies. Happily, 
it missed fire. Nau rushed upon Moshesh, and, holding 
him in his arms, entreated him to be appeased, and 
gave the spies time to escape. Moshesh called for the 
horses : they were all unsaddled except mine, which I 
had taken the precaution to keep near me; he begged 
me to lend it to him ; I refused, unless he would leave 
his weapons in my hands, and promise me to do the 
unfortunate fugitives no harm. I obtained this promise, 
and for this time the chief satisfied his vengeance with 
two or three strokes of the whip. Meanwhile Letsie had 
obeyed his father's summons ; and, after much altercation 
and resistance, he was obliged to submit, and order his 







A MOSUTO WARRIOR 



P. C3. 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 63 

men to return to the station. They came down the hill 
in battle array, forming a column of three ranks, all 
armed with assagais, clubs, and shields, their shoulders 
covered with a panther's skin, and their head adorned 
with plumes of many-coloured feathers. 

The conduct of Moshesh on this occasion rejoiced me 
exceedingly, but I soon discovered that he had dis- 
approved less of the expedition itself, than of the manner 
in which it had been undertaken; which was, he imagined, 
wanting in respect to himself. 

These events were transpiring at a time when the 
Colonial Government was at war with the CafFres. 
" What would you think," said Moshesh to rne, as we 
entered Moriah once more, " if I were to aid the king 
of the white men to reduce the CafFres to subjection? 
My sons have as yet no renown ; they wish to distinguish 
themselves in war; and it seems to me that present 
circumstances afford an excellent opportunity of insuring 
to myself the friendship of the white people, and of 
gratifying the desire of my sons." I tried to dissuade 
him from this idea, but in vain; his resolution was 
already taken, and on reaching Bosio he received 
tidings which served to strengthen him in it. Mapela, 
one of his vassals, who lived beyond the Orange River, 
had made an invasion on the Tembukis, and had taken a 
large number of cattle; but the Tembukis, following 
close on his heels, had recovered their cattle, and at the 
same time carried off some of the herds of Moshesh. 
From that time I considered war as inevitable; and, 
indeed, a few weeks afterwards our chief took his depar- 
ture, with two thousand men, a hundred beasts of burden 



64 THE BASUTOS. 

laden with provisions, and the same number of oxen for 
food. Only women, children, and four or five shepherds, 
remained behind at the station. How shall I describe 
the sorrow I felt at these events ? " These are," thought 
I, " the Basutos, who lately, reduced to extremities by 
their enemies, groaned for peace — and now they rekindle 
the flames of war ! Past lessons are forgotten, and two 
years' gospel-preaching has left no trace in their hearts ! " 
Moshesh sustained a humiliating defeat. He had 
been betrayed : the Caffres expected him ; they allowed 
him to ravage six or eight villages, and take from three 
to four thousand head of cattle; but as soon as the 
Basutos began to withdraw with their spoil the enemy 
burst upon them on all sides. A furious conflict ensued: 
Moshesh was obliged to dismount, and fight at the head 
of his troops ; Ralisaoane, his brother, was killed. The 
horses, being only in the way, many of them were killed, 
to prevent their falling into the hands of the Caffres. 
Most of the cattle, also, which had been carried away, 
were necessarily left behind; and from eight to nine 
hundred horned beasts were the only fruit of this unfor- 
tunate enterprise. The result proved to us that this 
incident had been permitted by Providence for a wise 
purpose. Moshesh frankly acknowledged the fault he 
had committed, and from that time diligently applied 
himself to the propagation of the principles of peace 
among his people, and that forgetful ness of the past, 
which we constantly inculcated. From that moment 
the most perfect tranquillity reigned, for many years, in 
the central parts of the country. 



65 



CHAPTER V. 

While the events related in the preceding chapter were 
transpiring, Mr. Holland was founding, half-way be- 
tween Bethulie and Moriah, a new station, which was 
destined by Providence to exert great influence over the 
whole country. The interminable wars of Moselekatsi, 
putting out of all question the idea of forming any settle- 
ment near that chief, and the population of Motito being 
too inconsiderable to suffice for the activity of two Mis- 
sionaries, our friend had decided on settling near the 
borders of the river Caledon. 

All being ready for his departure, he took leave of 
Mr. and Mrs. Lemue, and directed his steps towards 
Bethulie. A few days' journey brought him to the 
banks of the river Fal, which he found so swollen by 
the recent rains that he was obliged to wait three weeks 
before he could venture to cross. 

Such contrarieties are experienced by every traveller 
in Africa. One day follows another with overwhelming 
monotony. The immobility of the scene before one, the 
silence which reigns around during the heat of the day, 
the wearisome repetition of the cries of wild beasts in 
the cool of the morning and evening, the hopeless sere- 

F 



66 THE BASUTOS. 

nity of the heavens, end by causing the head to swim. 
From time to time the poor traveller, yielding to a 
feverish impatience, descends the declivity which sepa- 
rates him from the inexorable torrent, to consult a slip 
of wood which he has driven into the sand, at the ex- 
treme edge of the water. He clasps his hands, and jumps 
for joy like a child, at the first indication of a lower 
level ; and from that time, taking as a basis the fraction 
of an inch that the river may have fallen, he gives him- 
self up to calculations, which, if they do not hasten his 
deliverance, enable him, at least, to await it more pa- 
tiently than before. 

After three weeks spent in these alternations of hope 
and despondency, Mr. Holland, finding the water re- 
duced to a depth of four feet and a half, determined to 
attempt crossing. A dozen Bushmen offered their ser- 
vices on the occasion, the only reward they asked being 
a few glass beads. 

The waggon containing the baggage went over first ; 
the natives, swimming by the side of the oxen, shouting 
and striking the water to urge the animals forward and 
prevent their stopping in the middle of the stream. 

The vehicle that followed contained the most valu- 
able property my friend had in the world — his wife and 
a little girl of eight months old. God sometimes per- 
mits that on which we bestow most care to be exposed 
to the greatest danger; and it was so on this occasion. 
The cumbrous machine now rolling along, now upborne 
by the water, left the ford, and struck against the large 
root of a willow-tree. The Bushmen ran to the rescue, 



JOUKNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 67 

took the child, and had soon deposited it in safety on the 
opposite bank, and a few moments after the mother was 
by its side. Mr. Rolland was obliged to labour inces- 
santly for three hours, to extricate the waggon and set 
the team in order. In such an emergency the oxen 
never fail to entangle themselves in their harness, and 
get into the most desperate confusion; some breaking 
their yokes, others backing at random, until they find 
themselves between the pair that followed them: the 
leaders, refusing all service, are suddenly and mys- 
teriously transported among those that bring up the 
rear. In short, nothing is soon to be distinguished but 
a confused mass, bristling with horns, and from which 
proceed bellowings of the most lamentable kind. 

Our friends, happy to find themselves, by God's 
help, safely through this difficulty, continued their journey 
tranquilly, and soon had the pleasure of seeing Mr. and 
Mrs. Pellissier at Bethulie. 

After having a little recovered from their fatigue, 
they went to take up their abode on the north bank of 
the Caledon, between Bethulie and Moriah, about eigh- 
teen leagues from the former and twenty from the latter 
of these stations. 

The chief, Moshesh, approved of the foundation of 
the new settlement, which received the name of Beer- 
sheba. Portions of the tribe of the Barolongs, who had 
been dispersed by Moselekatsi, came first to seek a 
refuge there ; but previous to the enjoyment of repose, 
they, as well as their spiritual guide, had to pans through 
a season of agitation and alarm. 



68 THE BASUTOS. 

The surrounding country was uninhabited; but at 
a distance of six or seven leagues from the station were 
the head-quarters of those formidable Korannas whose 
incursions had proved so fatal to the Basutos. They 
lived on the sides of a magnificent mountain, which an 
industrious people would soon have converted into a 
delightful place of residence. As for them, like the 
vultures that had built their eyries on its lofty ridges, 
they only saw in it a fortress whence they might con- 
veniently spy out and surprise their victims. 

These wretches tried at first, by threats and secret 
plotting, to terrify and dishearten the Missionary ; and 
for several months there was a succession of insolent 
messages, alarms, and armed visitors. Sometimes a 
herald in rags, but mounted on an excellent horse, came 
to proclaim the imprescriptible rights of a Fortao or a 
Vittefoet, modern Tidals, kings of nations, before whom 
everything must bow ; sometimes a messenger, puffed 
up with the importance of his mission, interrupted our 
friend in the midst of his labours, in order to place in 
his hand a long stick, which was the exact measure of 
the roll of tobacco his master required. 

Mr. Rolland bore all this with fortitude. He took 
the precaution to cover in his house with a terrace, in- 
stead of an ordinary roof, in order to be safe from fire, 
and to secure a refuge for his family in case of a coup- 
de-main. Knowing that the Korannas were as cowardly 
as they were boasting and cruel, he did not scruple to 
display, in proper time and place, the weapons in his 
possession. His people, having as yet had no good 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 69 

harvest, subsisted principally by the chase, and thus 
acquired much skill in handling the musket. 

A terrible act of justice on the part of the Basutos 
soon convinced the Korannas that their reign was over ; 
some Amakosa Caffres had recently come to settle near 
the Basutos, and the chief of these strangers, named 
Yalusa, had promised the most perfect loyalty to Mo- 
shesh. Shortly afterwards, however, struck with the 
apparent weakness of the people who had afforded him 
hospitality, he began to intercept travellers, lay violent 
hands on them, and enrich himself with the booty ; but, 
at a time when they least expected it, the guilty horde 
were surrounded by some thousands of men, commanded 
by two of the sons of Moshesh, and cut in pieces : the 
smoke of the burning villages was seen from Beersheba. 

Mr. Rolland took advantage of this opportunity to 
teach the natives, that though Christianity does not for- 
bid people to assert their rights, it never allows them to 
act cruelly towards the vanquished. 

A number of cattle that had been left in the fields 
by the Caffres, had fallen into the hands of the in- 
habitants of the station. The Missionary assembled the 
people, and besought them to have pity on those poor 
creatures who had escaped slaughter, and send them 
back their cattle. This proposal appeared at first very 
singular, and excited great discontent; but the power 
of the Gospel soon became manifest. Mr. Rolland and 
some of the most influential men mounted their horses, 
and went in search of the fugitives, whom they found 
a prey to hunger and despair, and thus saved their lives. 



70 THE BASUTOS. 

In the midst of the cares and anxieties of this critical 
moment a little incident occurred, which touchingly re- 
minded us of the care that God continually exercises 
over His children. 

He had recently blessed me with a helpmate ; the 
journey that our union had rendered necessary was 
nearly over, but before returning to Moriah we thought 
it our duty to devote a few days to the friendship that 
united us to Mr. and Mrs. Rolland. The new-comer, 
being passionately fond of nature, sometimes ventured 
into the country beyond the bounds of prudence ; and, 
while the Basutos were sacrificing to their vengeance 
the Caffres of Yalusa, she amused herself with gathering 
flowers on the banks of the Caledon. All at once piercing 
cries rent the air, and there stood before her a number 
of savage-looking warriors, — enemies of the people to 
whom she had devoted her existence. Ignorant of the 
extent of the danger she had incurred, she returned to 
the station, where she learned with amazement the great 
alarm which her absence had created. 

The Korannas, surprised at the daring blow that 
had just been struck by Moshesh, at so short a distance 
from their abode, and seeing the assurance of the in- 
habitants of Beersheba increase from day to day, ended 
by quitting the country altogether. 

About the same time, circumstances unforeseen by 
Mr. Rolland concurred in a most providential manner 
to increase the importance of the settlement, and ensure 
to it a great influence over the destiny of the whole 
population. 



JOUKNEYS OF EXPLOEATION. 71 

During the wars that had ravaged their country 9 
more than two-thirds of the Basutos had taken refuge 
in the Cape Colony. Stripped of everything, and weary 
of war, they desired* nothing better than to repair their 
fortunes by the labour of their hands, and from the first 
showed themselves tractable, and even grateful to those 
who received them; while the latter welcomed with 
delight skilful shepherds and excellent workmen, who 
were satisfied with very humble remuneration. Large 
communities of Basutos were thus formed from the 
banks of the Orange River to Algoa Bay. 

But, in the meantime, war had broken out between 
the Colonial Government and the Amakosa Caflres, and 
the struggle was long and expensive. The general-in- 
chief, Sir Benjamin D'Urban, came off conqueror, though 
not without difficulty ; and his first care after the war 
was over was to devise means to prevent a second in- 
surrection. Mistrusting the Basutos, of whose history 
he was entirely ignorant, he commanded them to return 
to their own country. Great was the perplexity of 
these poor fugitives, who trembled at the thought of 
returning to those scenes of bloodshed they had left 
behind. Besides, they began to value the advantages 
of civilisation, and many of them had gained some idea 
of religion, which they feared they might lose in a 
heathen country. 

Lastly, and this was the most important point in 
their eyes, there were among them several representa- 
tives of families who had formerly governed in Lesuto, 



72 THE BASUTOS. 

and who had often been led by rivalry into hostilities 
with Moshesh. These fallen chiefs had every reason to 
believe that their reappearance might awaken by-gone 
feuds. They could no longer claim seigneurial rights 
upon a territory which they had abandoned. At this 
seasonable moment two circumstances happened which 
removed all difficulties. The first was the proclamation 
of a general amnesty, a complete forgetfulness of the 
past — an act proving both the benevolence and the ability 
of the chief Moshesh ; the second, the existence of the 
station of Beersheba. 

The surrounding country being depopulated, offered 
abundant pasturage for the cattle which the refugees 
had gained in the colony. While the most influential 
families settled near the Missionary, others formed vil- 
lages at no great distance ; and the disinherited chiefs, 
while they acknowledged the sovereignty of Moshesh, 
were able, thanks to the distance that separated them 
from him, to settle without difficulty all the little details 
of the relations that existed between them. 

Thus had Mr. and Mrs. Holland, under the guidance 
of God, opened the door by which thousands of exiles 
were to return to the land of their fathers, having their 
minds instilled on the way with the principles of the 
Gospel. After two or three years of dangers and assaults, 
our friends found themselves surrounded by a consider- 
able population ; the desolate places flourished round 
them, and the journey from Beersheba to Moriah, which 
formerly we could not perform without exposing our- 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 73 

selves to be devoured by lions, or stripped of everything 
by brigands, now lay through hamlets scattered here and 
there along the road. 

To the north of the Caledon, toward the centre of 
the country comprised between that river and the Fal, 
another tribe, that had long been a prey to misfortune, 
awakened our sympathies. The Bataungs closely resem- 
bled the subjects of Moshesh in features, manners, and 
language, but they had a distinct government; their 
chief town was called Entikoa, and there resided their 
chief Makoana, and his nephew, Moletsane, an enter- 
prising man, who enjoyed great renown among the 
warriors of that country. 

The invasion of the Zulus of Natal had been no less 
disastrous to the Bataungs than to those dwelling on the 
banks of the Orange and Caledon. Moletsane finding 
himself ruined, invaded the territory of the Barolongs, 
and advanced to the banks of the Merikoa, conquering 
all that lay in his way. Sebetoane, chief of the Bapatsa, 
was in alliance with him, when an unexpected attack 
from Moselekatsi obliged them both to flee. Sebetoane 
continued his march northward, till he reached the 
shores of the Zambesi, where Livingstone found him 
enjoying great prosperity. Moletsane fled in an opposite 
direction, and for the time settled on the Fal, whence 
he contrived, by means of a few fortunate expeditions, to 
take vengeance for the defeat he had sustained. But 
he soon found that his adversary was too strong for him. 
The tyrant of the Zulus sent a formidable armed body 
against him, who committed dreadful slaughter among 



74 THE BASUTOS. 

the Bataungs, and Moletsane, much enfeebled, withdrew 
to the Modder, where fresh disasters awaited him. The 
Griquas robbed him of almost everything still in his 
possession ; and from that time this chief, whose name 
had been almost as famous as that of Moselekatsi, lived in 
oblivion on the confines of the Cape Colony. Makoana 
had not been more fortunate in the land of his fathers ; 
most of his subjects, wearied with reverses of every kind, 
had deserted him and sought refuge near the Caledon, in 
the mountains of the country of Moshesh. The privilege 
of labouring at the restoration of this unfortunate tribe 
was reserved for Mr. and Mrs. Daumas ; they com- 
menced the work about the time that Beersheba had 
reached that state of prosperity which has been described 
above. 

Our new companion had sojourned for some time at 
this station to learn the language of the natives, and, 
accompanied by Mr. Arbousset, had visited the country 
of the Bataungs, and was convinced that it did not afford 
sufficient security to a people intimidated by a succession 
of disasters. With the consent of Moshesh, the seat of 
the new mission was placed at Mekuatling, in the 
northern part of the country belonging to this chief, 
where a great number of Bataungs were already to be 
found living among the Basutos, there being still room for 
some thousands more of inhabitants. Makoana was first 
invited to come and see the place which the Missionary 
had chosen. 

Many eloquent speeches were made on this occasion, 
which we will take the liberty of submitting to the 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 75 

reader > as a specimen of African rhetoric. " My lords/' 
said the chief on his arrival, " when you passed through 
Entikoa in the moon of May, and assured me that you 
intended to instruct me, I said to myself, ' These white 
men may lie as well as ourselves,' and I did not believe 
you, especially when I saw you depart soon afterwards. 
Now I think otherwise. This place shall be mine — it is 
good — I will remove to it with all my family." — " Ma- 
koana," answered the white men, whose veracity was 
thus acknowledged, ** our hearts are rejoiced to see you, 
for we are attached to you and your subjects. We 
acknowledge you as the eldest son of Taung, the king 
of the tribe of the Bataungs." — " Ah!" interrupted the 
chief with emotion, " every one knows that I am the 
son of Taung, but seeing me poor, my subjects no longer 
rally around me!" — " You live," continued the Mission- 
aries, " three days' journey from here, in a fertile 
country, it is true, abounding in game, but exposed to 
the attacks of numerous enemies. When we passed 
through your towns you said to us, ' I will go and build 
on the river Tikuane, and live there in peace/ We 
did not oblige you to speak thus ; we believed you, and 
you see we are come ourselves to build near the river 
you mentioned ; the place is already peopled with many 
of your subjects, who come daily to seek a refuge from 
hunger and the attacks of their enemies. Look at the 
beautiful fields they have cleared ! Is not this a spacious 
and fertile valley? In these mountains wood for fuel 
may be found in great abundance. This is, besides, a 
retired corner, sheltered from those unexpected attacks 



76 THE BASUTOS. 

which are so formidable to men buried in sleep; from 
whichever side the enemy may come, we shall have 
warning of his approach,. We are on the territory of 
King Moshesh, who wishes well to the Missionaries." 
An old man, in the suite of Makoana, addressed the 
company in his turn, and ended with this exclamation, 
worthy of a counsellor of the shepherd-kings : " I have 
carefully examined the country, and have seen that it is 
a land of rain and of corn. We will come and dwell 
here when we have got in the harvest. Why am I not 
a young man ? I would be shepherd to the white 
men." 

Immediately after this important meeting heralds 
were sent in all directions to announce that the following 
day was called the day of God, and that the inhabitants 
of the country, old and young, were invited to prayer. 
The next day the natives assembled in great numbers, 
and listened with profound attention to some remarks 
on those words of the forerunner of Christ : u Repent 
ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." By dint 
of attention and goodwill they managed to follow, with- 
out many digressions, the modulations of the voices of 
the Missionaries in singing a hymn, the first verse of 
which commenced with these words, " Chaba tsotle tsa 
lefatse, li thla thla Sioneng " (All nations of the earth 
shall come to Sion). 

These prophetic words were not to be realised con- 
cerning poor Makoana. In spite of the promises he 
had made in such fine language, he feared to lose a 
measure of his independence by approaching Moshesh, 






JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 77 

and preferred vegetating in a country almost unin- 
habited. 

Moletsane, wiser than he, did not hesitate to accept 
the shelter offered to his tribe. He established himself 
near Mekuatling, with some thousands of Bataungs, 
amongst whom Mr. and Mrs. Daumas have, from that 
time, continued to propagate the cause of Christianity 
and civilisation. 



78 



CHAPTER VI. 

The reader will perhaps remember, that when we 
founded the station of Moriah we flattered ourselves 
that we should one day see the supreme chief of the 
country take up his abode with us ; but after four years 
of expectation this hope had not been realised. The 
knowledge we had gained of the national history and 
manners did not allow us to advise the abandonment 
of a natural fortress, to which the principal families of 
the tribe owed their preservation. " This mountain is 
my mother," said Moshesh to us often, in speaking of 
Thaba-Bosio : " had it not been for her, you would have 
found this country entirely without inhabitants. You 
think that war is at an end ; I do not believe it : this is 
a rod that God has not yet broken." 

The extreme interest with which this man listened 
to our preaching, whenever we visited him, and the 
influence that he exerted over the whole country, made 
it our duty to enlighten him as much as possible ; it 
was, therefore, decided that I should go and live near 
him. 

Mr. Gossellin, with the help of some of the natives, 
had soon constructed the house which was to afford me 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 79 

shelter at the very foot of the citadel of Moshesh ; and, 
as soon as it was finished, I withdrew to my new post 
with my wife, and a little boy with which God had 
recently blessed us. The friend who had prepared our 
domicile was to return to Mr. Arbousset at Moriah. 
It was with feelings of deep emotion that I considered 
the prospect of living apart from my two fellow-workers, 
whose society had become in some measure indispensable 
to me ; five years' experience in common had led us to 
a conformity of views and of plans which greatly en- 
hanced the value of our daily intercourse. My wife, 
also, found no less congeniality in the society of a friend 
of her childhood, who had some time ago become the 
partner of Mr. Arbousset. I was also obliged to bid 
adieu to the flock whom I had, by degrees, become accus- 
tomed to consider as my family. The vocation of the 
Missionary seems to forbid his forming any deep attach- 
ments. Having quitted his country and his kindred, 
should he not feel a stranger everywhere ? The heart 
is not, like the reason, subject to a rigorous law of prin- 
ciple ; it follows everywhere its natural bent, at the risk 
of being inconsistent. Perhaps, in this case, it is not so 
much the effect of its weakness, as a compensation 
granted it by Providence. I doubt if the Missionary 
can be happy, if he finds nothing more in his work than 
the accomplishment of a duty, and especially I doubt 
his success. 

Some time after the departure of Mr. Gossellin, Pro- 
vidence gave me a very valuable co-labourer in the 
person of my brother-in-law, Mr. Dyke. 



80 THE BASUTOS. 

If my frequent visits had not already given me the 
right of citizenship at Thaba-Bosio, this right would 
have been freely granted me, now that I brought to the 
capital the first little white child born in the country 
of the Basutos. People came from all parts to see him. 
The chief and his counsellors forgot their affairs, as soon 
as they had access to this new kind of citizen. The 
care lavished upon him, the smallest details relative to 
his toilet, gave rise to the most naive remarks. The 
mothers hastened to bring their own babies to compare 
them with ours, and to ask us by what means we pre- 
served him in the good health he seemed to enjoy. It is 
right that the reader should know that, as long as we 
remained bachelors, the Basutos had found something 
singular and suspicious in our mode of existence. There 
were often whisperings around us about the matter ; the 
interpretations were very various, but all unfavourable. 
" Ah ! " said the profound thinkers, " their hearts are 
not the hearts of men. How can we hope that they 
should understand us, or that they should make them- 
selves intelligible to us?" Others supposed that we 
were too poor, or of too mean extraction, to be able 
to find wives according to our taste. A third party 
more charitably explained our appearance in the coun- 
try, as the result of a curiosity which would soon be 
satisfied. " These young men," said they, " will soon 
return home and settle. Of what use is it to listen 
to what they teach us?" The women, accustomed to 
see themselves excluded from the public assemblies, 
burst out laughing when we invited them to come and 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 81 

listen to our instructions. " What have you to do with 
us?" they answered. " You are men; go and teach 
men." The aspect of everything was changed since 
these female servants of Christ had come to reassure the 
minds of the natives as to the permanence of our work, 
enhance the dignity of the pastoral character, and set an 
example of diligent attention to religious services. The 
natives soon perceived that the Missionaries' wives also 
knew how to read, write, and speak to the point on any 
subject ; and this observation had stirred up the men to 
jealousy, and powerfully encouraged the other sex. 

New sympathies now sprang up with the rising gene- 
ration ; and this point of union was so much the more 
valuable, as the chief of the Basutos possessed, amongst 
other qualities, a great love for children. We have 
often seen him, in the midst of the most important busi- 
ness, while warriors, or delegates from distant tribes, 
were haranguing him, take the youngest of his sons on 
his knee, and amuse himself by feeding him. 

As soon as experience had proved to him the effi- 
ciency of our medical advice, there was no end to the 
practice he procured us. 

If this mark of confidence was encouraging to us, the 
chief, on his side, was no less sensible to the offer that 
we made him, to take his meals at our table every 
Sunday. 

Ever since our arrival at Thaba-Bosio we had had 
nearly four hundred regular auditors. At ten o'clock 
Moshesh came down with his followers, and Divine 
service was immediately commenced; and as it would 

a 



82 THE BASUTOS. 

have been too fatiguing to ascend the mountain and 
return to a second meeting, which was held in the after- 
noon, the congregation spent the day around our dwell- 
ing. The time which intervened between the services 
was not lost. Men and women, old and young, diligently 
applied themselves to learning to read, by means of 
spelling-exercises and a little catechism, that we had had 
printed in the colony. These good people at first set to 
work with extreme reluctance, protesting that it was 
ridiculous to hope that a black man would ever be clever 
enough to make the paper speak. But our entreaties pre- 
vailed, and they resolved to try : a slight improvement 
soon became visible, in spite of all that had been said to 
the contrary, and each meeting gave promise of still 
greater success. 

At length the grand problem was solved. One fine 
morning, ten or twelve of our scholars discovered that 
they could, without any help, make out the meaning of 
several phrases which they had never read before. 

This circumstance caused a tremendous sensation. 
The diviners declared that we must have transformed the 
hearts of their countrymen by means of some potent 
charm ; but their resistance had no effect whatever. 

The father of Moshesh was still living ; he was a 
scoffing and sceptical old man, and would have nothing 
to do with us at all. Sugar was, in his opinion, the only 
good thing we had brought into the country. When we 
tried to speak a few words to him he would turn his 
back upon us, taunting us with our youth, and recom- 
mending us to send for our fathers to come and instruct 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 83 

him. If at any time he yielded to our entreaties, he 
would listen with a bantering air, or, just at the most 
touching part of our appeal, amuse himself by pinching 
our noses and ears. 

The fame of the wonders performed in our school 
did not fail to reach the ears of Mokachane ; he laughed 
at this, as he did at everything else, till Moshesh at 
length became indignant at so much incredulity; and 
seizing an opportunity when we were all together, his 
father also being present, he turned the conversation on 
the subject of reading. " Lies ! lies !" cried the stubborn 
old man. " I will never believe that words can become 
visible." " Ah! do you not yet believe it?" answered 
his son ; " well, we will prove it to you." With these 
words, he desired one of our best readers to withdraw. 
"Now," said he, "think of something, and tell it to this 
white man ; he will draw some marks on the sand, and 
you will see. 5 ' The marks being made, the village scholar 
was called, and very soon made public the thoughts of 
his sovereign ; the latter, more than stupefied, covered 
his mouth with his hand, and looked from one to another 
of those present, as if to assure himself that he had not 
been transported to an ideal world. At length, after 
having exhausted all the interjections of his language, he 
burst forth into a torrent of invectives against his subjects 
and his family, for not having informed him of the 
miracles which were being performed in his country. 
" What !" said he to his son, " are you not eyes and ears 
to me? and you conceal such things from me !" In vain 
Moshesh protested that he had repeatedly told him of 



84 THE BASUTOS. 

these things — the refractory old man was not to be 
reasoned with. 

The taste for instruction manifested at Thaba-Bosio 
was still more remarkable at the other stations. At 
Bethulie, Mr. Pellissier, even with the aid of a co- 
labourer from France, Mr. Lauga, could hardly satisfy 
all the demands made upon him, so eager were the 
people to learn. Besides the day-school, the care of 
which rested entirely with the Missionaries, four religious 
services were held there every Sunday. 

At Beersheba, Mr. Rolland tried by every means 
to remedy the evil arising from the smallness of the 
building where the natives assembled to learn to read. 
The younger scholars running great risk of being stifled 
by the adults, it was found necessary to send to the 
infant-school, under the direction of Mrs. Rolland, 
children who were too far advanced to continue their 
attendance there ; and as it would have been impossible 
to persuade them to take this step backward, it was 
necessary to use compulsory means. To this end the 
Missionary placed a bar, in a horizontal position, before 
the school-room door, at a height of about three feet and 
a half from the ground, and turned out all the scholars 
who could pass under it without stooping. The num- 
ber thus dismissed amounted to eighty-six, and those who 
remained had more room for the next two days, but on 
the third the place was as full as it had been before. 

Mr. Daumas found himself placed in a similar 
dilemma at Mekuatling, with two hundred scholars in a 
tumble-down shed, which stood at the mercy of the wind 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 85 

and rain. Our friend availed himself of the aid of 
monitors, while he was engaged in superintending and 
directing the natives in the construction of a more solid 
and commodious building. 

At Moriah, the ten first Basutos who had learned to 
read fluently received, with transports of delight, the 
first book printed in their language, as a reward for their 
perseverance, the name of the laureate being written on 
the cover, with a line of encouragement, such as the 
following: — " Sepitla likes reading and singing." "Mo- 
nyakatela receives a book, in which he is going to seek a 
better heart." These tokens of satisfaction were pro- 
ductive of excellent effects. 

The knowledge of the fundamental doctrines of 
Christianity was now spreading fast ; our preaching was 
listened to with the greatest interest, and we were often 
surprised to hear what we had said repeated in language 
full of force and freshness. On one occasion, one of us 
having explained these words of the prophet-king — 
" Righteousness and peace have kissed each other, " a 
Mosuto asked if God could not have shown mercy to 
sinners without requiring satisfaction for their offences ? 
to which his companion replied — " No more than I should 
pardon you, if you had had the impertinence to spit in my 
face." A second answered more reasonably — " When a 
mantle is torn, do we say to the two pieces, ' Join your- 
selves together again?' No, but we get some kind of 
thread, which serves to sew them together. Adam was at 
first at peace with his Creator, because he was just and 
pure, like Him who had made him in His image; but after- 



86 THE BASUTOS. 

wards, what happened ? Satan put sin between Adam 
and Jehovah — thus war was kindled. Now, if Jesus 
has appeared and taken away sin, He has taken away 
the disagreement, and peace returns to its former place. 
Does not Jesus thus become the thread which unites 
the pieces of the torn mantle ? In Him, the justice which 
says, c Strike the guilty,' and the love which cries, ' Spare 
the man/ have kissed each other, like two old enemies 
that have become reconciled." " All that is very beau- 
tiful," added he who had put the question ; u but then, 
why do our hearts refuse to obey?" And he covered 
his face with his hands, and breathed a sorrowful sigh. 

" My heart," said another native, " is like the bed of 
the river, that has been dried up by turning its waters 
into a different channel ; the former bed is filled with 
sand, grass, and brushwood. Now God will turn the 
river into its old course, but what difficulties are there 
to be surmounted? The waters of His teachings run 
but slowly with me, and as soon as they enter are lost 
in a heap of rubbish." 

" God has said to the sun, ' Give light to men,' and 
the sun has obeyed ; He has said to the rivers, ' Flow,' 
and they have flowed ; to the grass, ' Grow,' and it has 
grown ; to the animals, c Be under the dominion of man/ 
and they have respected His command; He has said to 
man, ' Love me/ and man has refused to obey Him." 

The expression of feelings such as these seemed to 
announce, that the time of the first religious awakening 
was at hand ; the chief of the Batlapi at Bethulie, with 
several others, had already declared themselves disciples 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 87 

of Jesus Christ, and towards the end of the same year a 
shout of joy burst forth from Beersheba, and re-echoed 
through all our stations. 

Twenty-seven converts, the first-fruits of the mission 
to the Basutos, were baptized, and forty-two other adults 
soon followed them into the church. 

About the same time Moshesh was led, by means of 
domestic trials, to make some important concessions to 
Christianity. 

Tseniei, a sister of the first convert at Thaba-Bosio, 
was attacked by a dangerous illness ; her brother took 
her to his home, and would not allow recourse to be had 
to the usual ceremonies for curing the sick. " God 
alone," said he, ' ' opened the door of life to my sister ; 
He alone can open the door of death : to God alone will 
we pray." Neither the blame of the greater number, 
nor the flatteries and caresses of men skilled in the art 
of persuading, could shake his resolution. Watching day 
and night by his sister's side, he urged her to look solely 
to the merits of the Saviour; and the name of Jesus was 
the last sound that fell upon the ear of the dying Tseniei. 

As soon as she was dead, her brother came to tell 
me that he desired to have her buried in a Christian 
manner : or rather, to use his own expression, " To lay 
her by for the day of her resurrection." This was no 
small undertaking, as it was flying in the face of the 
idolatry of the country. The tomb and the cradle, in 
presence of which it is so difficult to be atheistical, are 
the altars on which the Mosuto sacrifices ; and it is of 
the formidable shades of his ancestors that he supplicates 



88 THE BASUTOS. 

calm repose for the cold remains of a beloved parent, 
and happy days for the infant on whose eyes the light 
has just dawned. As soon as a person has expired, he 
is supposed to have taken his place among the family 
gods ; his remains are deposited in the cattle-pen, which 
is looked upon as a sacred spot by these pastoral tribes. 
A victim is immolated at the tomb — the first oblation 
made to the new divinity, and at the same time an act 
of intercession in his favour, intended to insure him a 
happy reception in the subterranean regions inhabited by 
the barimos. 

I advised the brother of the deceased to go and 
inform Moshesh of his intentions. He did so, and was 
kindly received by the chief, who answered him in the 
following words : — " I have seen the change which has 
taken place in you, and have said to myself, c The word 
which renews a man in this manner is the word of truth.' 
So far from offending me by well-doing, you may be 
sure of my approbation. Come, I will show you myself 
the spot where we will build the city of the dead ; your 
sister will be the first inhabitant, but we will all follow 
her thither." The next morning more than five hundred 
persons accompanied the remains of Tseniei to the new 
cemetery, The procession, preceded by four bearers, 
advanced in the most profound silence. I conducted the 
funeral service according to the rites of the Protestant 
Church, after which the crowd retired, evidently touched 
by the beauty of that hope that faith gives to the 
Christian. 

We now began to feel the first approach of the 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 89 

measles, which at this time was ravaging the whole of 
South Africa ; a few days after the interment of Tseniei, 
our little girl was carried off by the disease. God gave 
us this opportunity of glorifying Himself; it was well 
for the Basutos to see Christian parents mourning a 
dearly beloved child, but sustained by the firm convic- 
tion that they should meet it again in regions of glory 
and bliss. The chief wished to see the body of our little 
one before the coffin was fastened down, and was touched 
to behold the care that the mother had taken to adorn 
the innocent remains of her child. "Ah!" he exclaimed, 
(c Christians only are happy ; they weep, but their tears 
are not like ours. We see that you believe that Emma 
will rise again, and that death is but a stream that man 
crosses to go to God." 

Moshesh was himself on the eve of losing one whom 
he tenderly loved : Mantsane, one of his principal wives, 
in a fit of delirium occasioned by the measles, threw 
herself from the top of one of the steepest points of the 
mountain. The chief, on informing me of this sad event, 
begged me not to leave him, as this day of mourning 
would probably be a day of strife also. Mantsane, 
belonging to a powerful family, and, unfortunately, one 
remarkable for its opposition to Christianity, the great 
question touching the worship of ancestors was about to 
be discussed afresh. The funeral of a rich person gene- 
rally attracts a crowd ; many sacrifices are offered, and 
the flesh of the victims goes to feed a herd of shameless 
parasites, who form the court of the petty sovereigns of 
Africa. This greedy crew, as might have been expected, 



90 THE BASUTOS. 

ranged themselves on the side of the kindred of Mant^ 
sane, to maintain the ancient customs. 

About the middle of the day I went to the chief, 
and found him absorbed in the deepest grief; it was 
time, indeed, that I came to his aid. Nearly a thousand 
oxen had been assembled at the principal place in the 
town, and a grave in the pen was just completed. tf Do 
you consent to perform the service over this grave?" 
asked Moshesh. " No," I answered, without hesitation: 
" you have a cemetery, I can only speak there. These 
cattle prove that you are tempted to pray to my God 
and to your barimos as well. I should be unfaithful 
to my Master if I acceded to "your desires." e ■ I told 
you so," exclaimed Moshesh, turning to the crowd : " it 
cannot be." His words were received with a murmur 
of discontent; the brother of the deceased protested 
against any deviation from the national customs. " On 
what are these customs founded?" answered the chief; 
t{ I should like to see the book where they are enjoined : 
the Missionaries give us the reason for all they do. 
Man dies, because he has received in Adam the seed 
of death ; the dead should be buried in the same place, 
because it is a beautiful thought that they lie together 
in the long sleep of death. Man is only alone as long 
as he remains in his mother's womb; when he sees 
the light of day he clings to the breast of her who has 
given him birth, and from that time he lives in the 
society of his fellows. You say we must sacrifice to 
our ancestors, but they were only men like ourselves. 
You, also, when you are dead, will be turned into gods ; 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 91 

would you like us to worship you now ? But how are 
we to worship men? And if you are but men now, 
will you be more powerful when death shall have reaped 
the half of you?" Here Ratsiu, the chief opponent, 
bitterly replied i " We are silent, because we will not 
vield." Another answered, " What the Missionaries 
say would be excellent, if we believed it; but I, for 
my part, do not believe it." — " Nevertheless, it is the 
truth," replied the chief.—" Yes, the truth! the truth!" 
cried a voice from the midst of the assembly. — " Courage, 
my master: do what is right; you will not repent of it." 
I now began to speak, and, addressing myself to the 
most influential persons, I said : " Great men of Thaba- 
Bosio, aged men whom we all respect, I hate harsh 
words. Moshesh has told you the reasons why the 
worship of your ancestors should be discontinued. Re- 
fute the truths that I declare to you : here I am, speak : 
I listen." — " And I also listen," said the chief; " speak!" 
A long silence followed these words. — " We will speak," 
said some one at length, " when the Missionary is gone." 
— ** Yes, you will conquer when there is no longer an 
adversary; speak now!" exclaimed Moshesh, a little 
irritated by such obstinate opposition. — te Why do you 
hang your heads ? I said in my heart, there are around 
me men who have words of wisdom, but I now see that 
they have but words of vanity. Let this pit be refilled 
immediately, and the cattle be driven to the fields." 
Then, turning to me, he added, t( You have conquered: 
the wife I mourn shall go and sleep with Tseniei, and 
I, also, will one day rest with them." 



92 THE BASUTOS. 

Scenes of a similar kind transpired in all our sta- 
tions. People came from a distance to question us 
concerning the astounding doctrines we had introduced ; 
many hearts were opened to embrace new hopes, many 
consciences were awakened, and churches were formed 
around, over which God has never ceased to exercise 
His watchful care. 

The bounds that we are obliged to give to this 
historical sketch do not allow us to trace the pro- 
gressive growth of each of these little Christian com- 
munities. Foregoing, with regret, the recital of facts 
of the most touching nature, we will, at least, give the 
reader an idea of the people among whom our flocks 
were gathered, by a description of the principal in- 
cidents of the life and conversion of two of our 
neophytes. 



93 



CHAPTER VII. 

The childhood of Entuta was passed in the midst of 
the wars that had desolated the country of the Basutos. 
He was hardly twelve years old when he lost his father, 
and his family were obliged to exile themselves to go 
and seek sustenance among the cruel vassals of Dingan. 
During the journey he had to endure extreme hunger 
and fatigue ; the poor emigrants, conducted by Cheu (a 
man of years and experience), climbed, with difficulty, 
the mountains of the Malutis which separate the country 
of the Bechuanas from the province of Natal. On the 
frontiers of the land of the Zulus a haughty-looking 
chief arrested the travellers, with the intention of seizing 
Entuta for his slave, and was already carrying the child 
off, when Cheu ran to the help of his young friend, and, 
taking him by the arm, tried to drag him away. An 
obstinate struggle ensued; the child, violently pulled 
about, screamed with pain and terror. The Zulu, find- 
ing himself the weaker of the two, became furious, and, 
raising his javelin, cried, with a furious glare at Cheu, 
" This child shall be neither yours nor mine ; see, this 
steel shall pierce his brain !" At this moment Entlaloe, 
the boy's elder brother, rushed to the murderer, and, 



94 THE BASUTOS. 

arresting his arm, cried, " O Cheu, my father, do not 
resist any more : let Entuta be a slave ; perhaps some 
day he will return to us!" 

These words were verified; for, after the lapse of a 
few months, the poor captive rejoined his family, whom 
he found settled a day's journey from Mokokotlofe, the 
usual residence of Dingan. A considerable number of 
Basutos, brought together by common misfortune, had 
obtained permission from the Zulu monarch to found 
a village, which very soon became flourishing. By 
means of the communication they kept up with their 
countrymen of Lesuto, these emigrants procured ostrich 
feathers, cranes' wings, and panthers' tails, which they 
sold advantageously to the Zulus, such objects con- 
stituting the chief military ornaments of that people. 
The little community were soon in possession of some 
flocks, and already looked forward to the day when 
these acquisitions should enable them to return to their 
own land; but, alas! the source of their prosperity 
became the cause of their ruin. Some friends of Cheu 
were allured, by a more advantageous bargain, to go 
and offer their merchandise to the Baraputsas, a neigh- 
bouring tribe, at enmity with Dingan. This was enough 
to kindle the wrath of the despot. One dark night the 
village of the Basutos was completely surrounded by 
some hundreds of warriors, and a general massacre 
took place. Entlaloe and his young wife, dangerously 
wounded, were left as dead under a heap of corpses; 
the hut of Entuta was pillaged and burnt. As for 
himself, thanks to an intervening Providence! he had 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 95 

set out the evening before on a journey with his pro- 
tector, Cheu. As soon as Entlaloe and his wife were 
sufficiently recovered from their wounds, they and their 
brother quitted the inhospitable land of Natal, and, being 
reduced to a state of entire destitution, they were com- 
pelled to join a band of hunters on the banks of the 
Caledon, who lived on the flesh of hippopotami and 
wild boars. In the course of this adventurous life 
Entuta was often exposed to great dangers; he was one 
day pursued by a hippopotamus, infuriated by the num- 
ber of wounds it had received. The young hunter, 
worn out with fatigue, was near being torn in pieces ; 
but God, who watched over him, directed his flight 
towards a deep ravine, where the animal dared not 
follow. A few months afterwards, Entuta and his friend 
Taele were surprised by a leopard while hunting rock 
rabbits; they attacked the animal without hesitation, 
and wounded it, irritating it to such a degree that it 
sprang upon Taele, brought him to the ground, and 
was about to tear him in pieces, when Entuta delivered 
his friend by laying the ferocious beast dead at his feet 
with a blow of his club. The skin of the leopard 
belonged to the victor, but on this occasion he mani- 
fested a most laudable generosity. Having conducted 
Taele in safety to his parents, he brought the precious 
trophy, and spreading it out before his companion he 
said, " Take it ; it is yours : you have run the greatest 
danger." 

After several years of agitation and suffering the 
exiled family returned to Thaba-Bosio, and found there 



96 THE BASUTOS. 

peace and plenty, and, what is of infinitely more value, 
the words of eternal life. 

From the first Entuta paid great attention to the 
preaching of the Gospel, and Christian principles were 
insensibly developed in his heart, before it became per- 
ceptible to those around him. He opened his mind to me 
a few days after he had heard a discourse on those words 
of Joshua : " As for me and my house, we will serve 
the Lord." " I have felt," said he to me, " that I should 
not be able long to conceal the change that God has 
wrought in me. Jesus Christ must be served openly; 
my conscience was awakened some months ago, when 
the Lord said to me : c Entuta, how will you escape my 
wrath?' I tried at first to deceive Him and deceive 
myself, and answered : c I am so young, what harm can 
I have done? My assagai has never pierced a man. 
I eat the fruit of my own labour/ But the book of 
God convicted me of a lie : it says, ' Thou shalt not 
covet.' Then I understood that sin was in my soul. It 
says also, ■ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all 
thy heart, and Him only shalt thou swerve.' I was con- 
vinced that, all my life, I had only loved myself; and 
as I wept in the bitterness of my soul, Jesus said: 
' Come to me, thou who art weary and heavy laden, 
and thou shalt find the rest that thou seekest.' O, my 
shepherd, lay the yoke of Christ upon me ; I will bear 
it publicly." 

He was baptized soon afterwards, and took the name 
of Manoah. 

A few years after he was taken from us by a very 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 97 

rapid illness : he was very near his end before we had 
any idea that he was in danger. From the first he 
evinced entire resignation, and a few days before his 
death he said to his brother : " Perhaps I shall remain 
with you, perhaps I shall depart : may God choose for 
me." — "Do you suffer much?" asked Entlaloe. — "Yes, 
a great deal; but the Lord sustains me. When He 
took me into His service, He did not promise me that I 
should be free from suffering." A friend, who was pre- 
sent, remarked that Manoah had been famous for his 
strength. " It is true," replied the poor invalid, " that 
I have been vigorous for many years ; but strength is 
a snare — the Lord has done well to take from me what 
I was proud of." The next morning, his brother was 
so struck by the progress of the disease that he fell on 
his knees and burst into tears. " Why do you weep ? " 
asked Manoah. — "I see the Lord is about to chasten 
me, and how can I help weeping?" — "Listen to me," 
answered the sick man : u I do not wish to deceive my- 
self. I know that I am in great danger, but let us 
both be submissive to the will of God ; all that He 
does is well. Above all, let us never forsake our Sa- 
viour." The 23d Psalm was then read : Manoah, after 
listening to it, said in a low voice, and as if speaking to 
himself: "I should like to know if David, when he 
wrote this psalm, was in my situation; it is so com- 
forting; the comparison is so beautiful. During the 
following night he waked his old mother, who was 
sleeping near him, and asked her when she was going 



98 THE BASUTOS. 

to cook the Sunday bread.* " The day after to-morrow, 
my son — this is the night of the fifth day." — "On 
Sunday I shall be no longer with you, the Lord has 
sent for me." These words alarmed his family ex- 
tremely. I was sent for, and could not but confirm 
the judgment of the invalid as to his condition. 

After having administered a restorative, I begged 
him to tell me all his thoughts and feelings. "Oh!" 
exclaimed he, with difficulty, ec my dear pastor, I should 
have much to say to you if I could speak* Do you 
remember the day when I told you that, like Joshua, 
I would serve the Lord ? Since then I have been happy. 
I believe in Jesus Christ, and find in Him pardon for 
all my sins. He will not leave me now that death is 
near." During this day, which was Friday, he grew 
weaker and weaker ; every symptom told of a speedy 
dissolution. I hastened, therefore, the next morning to 
his bedside, and found him still conscious, though he 
spoke with difficulty. On seeing me he repeated twice, 
in broken accents : " I am happy in Jesus !" Soon after 
he said to his brother, who was supporting him in his 
arms, " Kia otsela — I am going to sleep." 

Entlaloe laid him on his bed of skins, closed his 
eyes, and all the bystanders withdrew sobbing. 

I could not so soon leave the remains of the first 
Mosuto Christian that I had seen die : I was absorbed 

* In our stations the converted Basutos had spontaneously 
adopted the custom of preparing on Saturday their food for 
Sunday, in order to be more at leisure on the Lord's day. 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 99 

in the thought of the change that one short moment had 
wrought for this happy being. A hut of reeds was the 
only dwelling that Manoah had ever possessed; a few 
deer -skins, the most valuable garment he had ever 
worn ; his flocks, the only riches he knew. I remem- 
bered that, quite lately, in trying to depict to him the 
bliss and glory of heaven, I regretted that he could 
have but a very imperfect idea, even of the earthly 
objects, to which the Holy Spirit has compared the 
blessings to come. But one moment had sufficed to 
transport him into the midst of ineffable splendours, 
of which the golden harp of the seraphim, the sea of 
crystal, and gates of pearl, are, doubtless, very im- 
perfect images. Oh, mighty power of faith, by whose 
aid Manoah took hold of the promise of endless happi- 
ness, though he understood so little of its nature ! But 
what do I say? / He had comprehended this happiness, 
for with him it consisted entirely in living near to God ! 
What need had he of allegorical descriptions ? It was 
enough for Manoah to see his Saviour, to worship and 
serve Him, and throughout all eternity to tell Him 
how much he loved Him ; and it is enough for all the 
redeemed of Jesus Christ ! 

I pass on to the second fact, which made a great 
impression on me during my ministry. Libe, an uncle 
of Moshesh, had witnessed with the greatest displea- 
sure the arrival of the Missionaries. " Why are these 
strangers not driven away?" said he one day to his 
friend, Khoabane, a prudent and influential man. — 
« Why should they be driven away ?" said he. " They 



100 THE BASUTOS. 

do us no harm ; let us listen to what they have to say — 
no one obliges us to believe them." — "That is what 
Moshesh and you are always repeating: you will find 
out your mistake when it is too late," Libe was nearly 
eighty years of age when he spoke in this manner. 

Was this aged heathen clear-sighted enough to dis- 
cern the power of the doctrines that we preached? or 
rather, did not his conscience tremble already under 
the sting of Divine truth? 

However this might be, some time after, taking 
advantage of the peace which reigned in the plain, 
Libe quitted the arid heights of Thaba-Bosio for the 
smiling valleys of Korokoro ; and chose a hill of con- 
siderable elevation as the site of his village, whence the 
eye wandered over the imposing chain of the Malutis, 
and the rich table -land which separates the station 
where I resided from that of Moriah. It was not, 
however, the beauty of the site which guided him in 
his choice ; the sole desire of the old chief was to pro- 
cure good pastures for his flocks, and to escape from our 
wearisome preaching. 

He soon saw with vexation that we had found our 
way to his dwelling. How could we abandon him — a 
man on the brink of the tomb? Already the deep 
wrinkles which furrowed his whole body, the terrible 
state of emaciation to which he was reduced, his dull and 
haggard eyes, and other indications, still more repulsive, 
of a speedy dissolution, made even his nearest relations 
avoid him. He was generally to be found, covered with 
disgusting rags, squatted near the door of his hut, 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 101 

endeavouring to lessen the tedium of solitude by plaiting 
rushes. 

One would have thought that Libe, forsaken by 
every one, would have received with joy the consoling 
promises of the only religion which can dispel the terrors 
of death. But no; at the first sound of our voices a 
smile of hatred and scorn played upon his lips. " Depart! " 
cried he ; "I know you not. I will have nothing to do 
with you or your God ! I will not believe in Him until 
I see Him with my own eyes. Would your God be able 
to transform an old man into a young one ? " said he, one 
day to my colleague of Moriah. Just at this moment, 
the rising sun shot his rays across the defiles of the 
Malutis. "Yes," answered this servant of Christ; "you 
see this sun, which will soon be six thousand years old ; 
it is as young and beautiful to-day, as it was when it 
shone upon the world for the first time. My God has 
the power to perform what you ask ; but He will not 
perform it in your favour, because you have sinned, and 
every sinner must die.'' At the sound of this last word 
Libe became furious, and, turning his back on our friend, 
replied, " Young man, importune me no more ; and if 
you wish me to listen to you, go and fetch your father 
from beyond the sea — he, perhaps, may be able to 
instruct me." 

The violence of his animosity was especially mani- 
fested on the occasion of the interment of one of his 
daughters, at which I was invited to officiate by the 
husband of the deceased, and some other members of the 
family. The procession had preceded me, and I was 



102 THE BASUTOS. 

following slowly towards the grave, praying to the Lord 
to enable me to glorify Him, when I saw Libe rushing 
towards me w T ith a rapidity which only rage could give 
him. His menacing gestures plainly showed his design 
in coming, and I trembled at the prospect of being 
obliged to defend myself. Happily, his sons no sooner 
saw r him appear than they ran to my aid ; they begged 
him respectfully to retire, but he was deaf to their 
entreaties, and a struggle was the inevitable consequence, 
The wretched old man, exhausting himself by vain 
efforts, reduced his children to the grievous necessity of 
laying him on the ground, and keeping him in that posi- 
tion during the whole service. When I passed near him 
on going away he exerted all his strength to disengage 
himself, and ended by knocking his head violently against 
the ground. At length he ceased, being quite worn out 
with fatigue; and casting on me a look of which I 
could not have believed any man capable, he loaded 
me with invectives. 

After this deplorable incident we discontinued our 
visits to Libe, for fear of contributing to increase his 
condemnation ; we inquired, however, from time to time 
if he was still living, and sent him friendly messages by 
his neighbours. What was my surprise one day on 
receiving an invitation to go to him! The messenger 
that he sent was radiant with joy. ss Libe prays/' said he, 
with emotion, " and begs you to go and pray with him. 
Perceiving on my lips a smile of incredulity, the pious Tsiu 
continued his relation as follows : — " Yesterday morning 
Libe sent for me into his hut, and said, 6 My child, can 



iff 

llf 



ill 
||1S 




^i in 



JOUKNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 103 

you pray ? Kneel down by me, and pray God to have 
mercy on the greatest of sinners. I am afraid, my child, 
this God that I have so long denied has made me feel 
His power in my soul. I know now that He exists — I 
have not any doubt of it. Who will deliver me from 
that fire which never can be quenched ? 1 see it ! I see 
it ! Do you think God will pardon me ? I refused to 
go and hear His word while I was still able to walk. 
Now that I am blind, and almost deaf, how can I serve 
Jehovah ? ' Here," added Tsiu, " Libe stopped a moment, 
and then asked, e Have you your book with you ? ' I 
answered that I had. ' Well, open it, and place my 
finger on the name of God.' I did as he wished. 6 It is 
there, then,' cried he, ' the beautiful name of God ! Now 
place my finger on that of Jesus, the Saviour.' " Such 
was the touching recital of this bearer of good tidings 
sent me by Libe, and I soon had the pleasure of assuring 
myself of the reality of this wonderful conversion. For 
nearly a year, my co-worker at Moriah shared with me 
the happy task of ministering to this old man, whom 
grace had rendered as docile as a little child. In order 
to lose none of our instructions, Libe usually took our 
hands in his, and putting his ear close to our lips, repeated, 
one after the other, the words that we uttered, beg- 
ging us to correct him if he made any mistake. 
He was baptized in his own village. This ceremony 
attracted a crowd of people, who were desirous of 
seeing him who had persecuted us, and who now preached 
the faith which once he sought to destroy. Four aged 
members of the church at Moriah carried the neophyte, 



104 THE BASUTOS. 

who was too feeble to move alone, and deposited him on 
a kind of couch, in the midst of the assembly. Although 
we were not without anxiety as to the effects that such 
varied emotions might have upon him, we thought it our 
duty, trusting in the Lord, to invite him to give an 
account of his faith. 

" I believe," said he, without hesitation, " in Jehovah, 
the true God, who created me, and who has preserved 
me to the present hour. He has had pity on me who 
hated Him, and has delivered Jesus to death to save me. 
Oh, my Master ! Oh, my Father ! have mercy on me ! 
I have no more strength — my days are ended. Take me 
to Thyself: let death have nothing of me but these poor 
bones ! Preserve me from hell and the devil ! Oh, my 
Father, hear Jesus, who is praying to Thee for me ! Oh, 
my Lord ! . . . . Oh, my Father !".... The good old 
man forgot himself so completely in these pious ejacula- 
tions, that my colleague of Moriah, who officiated, was 
obliged to interrupt him, by putting the following ques- 
tions: — "Do you still place any confidence in the sacrifices 
that you have been accustomed to make to the spirits of your 
ancestors ?" — " How can such sacrifices purify ? I believe 
in them no more : the blood of Jesus is my only hope." 
— " Have you any desire you would like to express to your 
family, and to the Basutos assembled round youV — GC Yes ; 
I desire them to make haste to believe and repent. Let 
them all go to the house of God, and listen meekly to what 
is taught there. Moshesh, my son, where art thou?" (Here 
Moshesh covered his eyes with a handkerchief, to hide 
his emotion.) "And thou, Letsie, my grandson, where 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 105 

art thou? Attend to my last words. Why do you 
resist God? Your wives are an objection? These 
women are your sisters, not your wives. Jehovah 
created but one man and one woman, and united them 
to be one flesh. Oh! submit yourselves to Jesus — He 
will save you! Leave off war, and love your fellow- 
creatures." — " Why do you desire baptism V — "Because 
Jesus has said, that he who believes and is baptized shall 
be saved. Can I know better than what my Master 
tells me?" It is the custom in our stations for the con- 
verts, before receiving baptism, to repeat the ancient 
form of renouncement. It had been explained to Libe, 
and. he had perfectly understood it; but it was impos- 
sible for him to learn it, or even to repeat it after the 
officiating minister. This circumstance was turned to 
our edification, insomuch as the embarrassment of the 
convert brought forth all the ardour of his feelings. " I 
renounce the world and its pomp" said my colleague. — 
"No," exclaimed Libe; "I do not renounce it now, for 
I did so long ago-" — u I renounce the devil and all his 
works" — "The devil!" interrupted the happy believer; 
"what have I to do with him? He has deceived me 
for many long years. Does he wish to lead me to ruin 
with himself? I leave hell to him, let him possess it 
alone." — "I renounce the flesh and its lusts" Another 
exclamation. "Are there no joys but those of this 
world ? Have we not in Jesus pleasures which satisfy 
us ? " According to a desire very generally expressed, 
Libe was surnamed Adam, the father of the Basutos. 
He died one Sunday morning, shortly after his baptism. 



106 THE BASUTOS. 

One of his grandsons had just been reading to him some 
verses from the Gospels. "Do you know," said the 
young man, " that to-day is the Lord's day ? " "I know- 
it," he replied ; " I am with my God." A few moments 
after, he asked that a mantle might be spread over him, 
as he felt overpowered with sleep ; and he slept to wake 
in this world no more. 



107 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Twenty years have elapsed since the Basutos began to 
understand the message of mercy that we had brought 
them, and during this interval the number of Mission- 
aries has considerably increased ; the following have been 
added to the settlements, whose origin we have already 
related : — Carmel, under the care of Mr. Lemue, whose 
place at Motito has been filled by Mr. Fredoux ; Hebron, 
where Mr. Cochet is the pastor ; Bethesda, directed by 
Messrs. Schrumpf and Gossellin ; Hermon and Berea, 
under the superintendence of Messrs. Dyke and Maitin. 
The Basutos also have the advantage of the services of 
Mr. Lautre, a skilful surgeon ; Mr. Schuh, director of a 
printing-press established at Beersheba; Mr. Maeder, 
co-pastor with Mr. Arbousset ; Mr. Keck, the fellow- 
labourer of Mr. Daumas ; and Mr. Jousse, on whom has 
devolved the charge of Thaba-Bosio. 

God has blessed the labours of all these mes- 
sengers of salvation. The organisation of Christian so- 
ciety is slow, but sure and progressive, among people 
the masses of whom are still under the dominion of tra- 
ditional errors. The converts, as we have seen, evince 
intelligence and tact ; they are able to give, in a new 



108 THE BASUTOS. 

and interesting manner, the impressions they receive ; 
but here, as everywhere, the good is not unmixed with 
evil. The struggle is incessant ; and it would be desir- 
able to see the native converts protest with more energy 
against the disorders which reign around them. One 
feels that they think too much of the difficulties they 
have to overcome, and could wish them more assurance 
and vigour. This defect is, perhaps, the result of the 
habit of mistrust, so easily contracted by those who are 
born and grow up under a government which offers but 
small security for stability. Unexpected defections will 
at times spread consternation among these inexperienced 
flocks, but, notwithstanding, they advance in the narrow 
path which is marked out for them. 

In a temporal point of view, the arrival of the Mis- 
sionaries has been the salvation of the Basutos. The 
country, which in 1813 we found almost uninhabited, 
is now covered with hamlets, surrounded by fields, in 
a high state of cultivation; wild animals are no more 
to be seen, and the inhabitants begin to complain of too 
great an accumulation of horses and cattle. 

The natives, without neglecting their former pro- 
ductions, have generally adopted the culture of our 
cereals and principal fruit-trees. This country, being 
in the mountainous district which forms the culminating 
point of Southern Africa, enjoys the advantage of re- 
gular rains during all the summer season, from the 
month of October to that of April. 

The locusts, which so frequently devastate the lands 
of the Cape Colony, rarely stop in this privileged region ; 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 109 

either because they do not like the herbage, or because 
they fear to deposit their eggs in too damp a soil : the 
harvests, in consequence, are hardly ever known to fail, 
and the quantity of corn annually gathered in far sur- 
passes the consumption of the inhabitants. The surplus 
is easily disposed of in the colony ; and, with the cattle, 
constitutes the chief article of a commerce w 7 hich is 
already considerable. 

Our efforts for the development of agriculture could 
not have been crowned with more satisfactory results. 
We cannot, however, say as much regarding building 
and the construction of furniture. 

This fertile country, where the grass attains such 
a height that it is necessary to destroy it every winter 
by means of fire, possesses scarcely any large trees. 
While waiting till this obstacle to the development of 
civilisation finds its remedy in the plantation of artificial 
forests, we may be able to obviate it in some measure, 
by establishing commercial relations with Caffraria, 
which is nothing but a vast forest from one end to the 
other. The inhabitants of Beersheba and Mekuatling 
have striven more perseveringly than all the other 
tribes against these difficulties : they have almost uni- 
versally substituted small stone houses for their former 
huts. 

Our settlements lie in a line nearly parallel with the 
course of the Caledon, at an average distance of twelve 
leagues one from the other, so that each of them is 
situated in the centre of a populous district. 

Nothing can as yet be said for the buildings and 



110 THE BASUTOS. 

manufactures ; in this respect they cannot be compared 
with even the most insignificant of our villages. 

If you wish, dear reader, to form an idea of these 
stations, allow me to place you on the top of a hill, 
whence I have often contemplated one of these rising 
hamlets. Your eye rests upon an immense space, walled 
in by grey-peaked mountains, and you admire the pas- 
tures which cover the undulating ground of the valleys. 
You behold beautiful flocks, grazing peacefully under 
the care of shepherds armed with javelins and shields. 
Slender columns of smoke reveal to you the sites of 
villages hidden by the irregularity of the soil. But an 
indefinable feeling of sadness effaces from your lips the 
first smile of surprise. The verdure of the country 
appears to you too uniform ; the flocks do not seem so 
gay as those you have seen sporting in your own 
meadows. And then — what means this silence ? This 
African silence, which is only interrupted by the hoarse 
croaking of a crow, or the flight of some solitary crane ! 
This aspect of nature weighs you down ; and you feel 
that if the Missionary finds any charm here, it is be- 
cause the anguish of the day, when he bid adieu to 
all that was dear to him, had prepared his mind to 
comprehend the melancholy grandeur of his adopted 
country. 

Turn your eyes from these silent scenes to seek the 
station. You will discover at the foot of a hill, in the 
shadow cast by the mountain nearest you, a few simple, 
though well-built houses, whose white fronts are turned 
towards large orchards and cultivated fields. You will 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. Ill 

recognise, by its size and isolated position, the edifice 
consecrated to the worship of God. 

A little higher up are seen several small buildings, 
in rough stone (pretty well arranged in a row), whose 
principal charm consists in their being overshadowed 
by some very fine peach-trees : these are the dwellings 
of those of the inhabitants who have taken the first step 
towards civilisation. Higher up still may be seen im- 
mense circles, the circumference of which is composed 
of huts of an oval form, and placed very near each 
other : this is the motse, the heathen community, where 
barbarous songs may too often be heard ; whilst lower 
down the inhabitants meet, morning and evening, to 
chant the praises of the Saviour. 

Perhaps, after this glance at the ensemble of our 
station, you would like to enter one of our African 
churches. They are generally very much crowded, 
and it is sometimes not without difficulty that the 
preacher makes his way to the pulpit. The Christian 
women dress on a Sunday much as our villagers do; 
but they seem to understand that a handkerchief, worn 
as a turban, suits their dark complexion and rustic 
nature infinitely better than a bonnet or a cap; the 
men prefer a paletot to a jacket, and a frock to a tail- 
coat, which latter they consider as supremely ridiculous; 
the greater number still prefer arraying themselves in 
their cloaks of skins, and the Missionaries are not over- 
exacting in this particular. At some stations well-made 
wooden benches are used; in others, bricks take the 
place of wood ; in others, again, each auditor brings w T ith 



112 THE BASUTOS. 

him a stool to his own liking. The old women prefer 
a white mat, which they use as a parasol on their way 
to the house of prayer, and on which they sit, in 
Oriental fashion, during the service. The school children 
are generally grouped round the pulpit, under the super- 
intendence of one or two monitors. 

The form of worship is the same as that of the 
French Protestant churches ; but our brethren of 
Lesuto sing the praises of the Lord with much more 
energy than we do: in that country they know what 
it is to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. 

Every one who can read holds in his hand a col- 
lection of a hundred hymns, of which there is now a 
fourth edition. The converted Basutos appreciate still 
more the privilege of being able to seek in the New 
Testament the confirmation, or farther unfolding, of the 
instructions they receive from the Missionaries. A very 
popular translation of this holy book has been printed 
at Beersheba. The idiom of the Basutos has supplied 
all that was necessary to render the Divine thought 
with clearness, and without circumlocution. A very 
few words have been borrowed from the European 
languages, but simply in order to express material 
objects unknown to the natives. Nothing could equal 
the interest with which our converts watched the print- 
ing of the sacred volume. Having observed that their 
lynx eyes would not allow one faulty expression to 
escape, and followed up without mercy the slightest 
misprint, we turned this taste for criticism to very good 
account in the correction of our proofs. When our 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 113 

censors had any doubt as to the aptitude of any ex- 
pression not often used, they would indulge in philo- 
logical discussions which were very amusing, and at 
times very instructive. Many a word, before being 
allowed to keep the place we had assigned it, was sub- 
mitted to the examination of a jury composed of the 
most important men of the tribe. 

The objections often arose from the fact that the 
sublime singularity of the divine doctrines completely 
bewildered our scholars. I remember to have had 
inconceivable difficulty in convincing them that I was 
not mistaken in my assertion that Jesus Christ had 
said that His apostles should sit with Him on twelve 
thrones. It was beyond their conception that the King 
of kings should carry His condescension so far as to 
render mere servants sharers in his prerogatives. 

These mysteries of infinite wisdom were especially 
striking to the superior understanding of Moshesh. 
He particularly admired the account of the Creation, 
the Decalogue, and the thirteenth chapter of the First 
Epistle to the Corinthians, which he called " the poetry 
of love." I have often heard him repeat the preface 
to that sublime effusion, " Though I speak with the 
tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, 
I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." 
The history of Joseph threw him into ecstasies of 
delight and admiration: he related it one day, in my 
presence, to one of his allies who had come to visit 
him. In the ardour of the recital he appeared to forget 
what was passing around him, and indulged in a panto 

I 



114 THE BASUTOS. 

mime which was striking in its correctness of repre- 
sentation. The stranger, seized with astonishment, 
fixed his eyes on him, his countenance reflecting, like 
a mirror, all the impressions produced on that of the 
narrator. What would I not have given at that 
moment to be able to paint 1 

Will the reader believe that I have heard one of 
these natives utter, almost word for word, the celebrated 
expression of Rousseau : " Ce riest pas ainsi qu'on 
inventeV Some one had remarked that the Gospel 
might be the fruit of the white man's imagination. 
" Of the white man!" ironically exclaimed a man who 
made no profession of Christianity. " White men are 
indeed very clever ; they make rolling houses, guns, 
and powder; they are masters of everything but death: 
but, with all that, I do not believe them clever enough 
to have made the Bible ! " 

The churches of which we have spoken are mostly 
the work of our converts. At this very moment one 
is being completed, to the erection of which they have 
subscribed a sum of 2001. They lend still more 
willingly the aid of their hands, especially if the work 
is managed conjointly, and treated as a family matter, 
in which case the most wearisome toil is considered in 
the light of a pleasure. 

At the time of the construction of the church at 
Mekuatling, the natives first got together all the stones, 
and prepared about 60,000 bricks ; the wood for the 
framework was found in the mountains, or at the 
bottom of ravines inaccessible to horses or oxen; it 



JOURNEYS OF EXrLORATION. 115 

was brought, as if by magic, by the strong arms of 
these men. The stubble and rushes for the roofing had 
been cut by them at some distance from the station; 
the women and girls took upon themselves the duty 
of conveying it, and they might be seen every morning 
following one another, bearing on their heads large 
bundles, which they deposited in the yard. It is 
customary to stitch these materials to the laths of the 
roof by means of thongs, and for this purpose a number 
of skins were required. All the hunters of the place 
set off immediately, and soon returned with a large 
waggon-full of the skins of the gnns and zebras of the 
neighbourhood. Never had war been waged against 
these animals with such good conscience. The hunting 
cry was, " God wills it! God commands it!" In the 
evening: the hunters assembled, to the number of several 
hundreds, under the star-lit heavens, to sing a hymn to 
the Creator before retiring to rest. 

Lime is seldom found in this country, and is used 
for no other purpose than to whiten the walls of houses. 
It is only found in the form of stalactites in grottoes, 
situated generally at the mountain-tops. Mr. Daumas, 
after a great deal of research, had discovered a con- 
siderable quantity near a sparkling fountain falling 
in cascades ; but, unfortunately, very disadvantage- 
ous^ placed for the convenience of the quarrymen. 
The lime was taken by storm ; a party set out, one fine 
morning, as if on an excursion of pleasure. Mr. and 
Mrs. Daumas could not resist the temptation to be 
of the party. Blocks almost as hard as marble were 



116 , THE BASUTOS. 

soon broken to shivers, and long before sunset there 
were no fewer than five cart-loads of lime, which ten 
strong oxen conveyed successively to the station. 

Last of all, in order that the construction of the 
building should be complete, we must add to the happy 
labours already mentioned, a contribution in cattle, the 
sale of which would enable our colleague to furnish the 
sacred edifice with suitable benches. 

Tribes^ that had been dispersed by war and famine, 
restored to the land of their fathers; permanent ele- 
ments of prosperity introduced into a region that had 
been devastated by cannibalism ; the printing of the 
New Testament and the Psalms ; a considerable number 
of natives admitted to the sacraments and fellowship of 
the Church ; the fundamental truths of Christianity 
preached to the still unconverted masses; — such have 
hitherto been the general results of our undertaking. 
It is enough to encourage us, and to lead us to bless 
the Author of all good ; but it is little in comparison 
with that which still remains to be done. 

It is a sorrowful statement, but truth requires it to 
be made, that the work of social and religious regene- 
ration among the Basutos seemed to present fewer dif- 
ficulties and to progress more rapidly twelve years ago, 
than it has clone since. At that time nearly all the 
family t>f the chief seemed won over : he himself some- 
times appeared only to be waiting for a little more 
advancement among his people, in order to renounce 
ancient customs, and regulate his life and government 
by Christian laws. The Basutos were then still igno- 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 117 

rant of the great stumbling-block presented by the selfish 
policy of nations calling themselves Christian. Our con- 
verts thought that war ought to cease entirely where the 
supreme authority of the Word of God was admitted ; 
they, therefore, imagined they had nothing to fear from 
the white race, and this feeling had become so strong 
that military exercises were gradually discontinued. 
The country of the Basutos furnished the Cape Colony 
yearly with a large number of workmen, who, owing to 
the confidence inspired by their reputation for fidelity 
and honesty, easily found occupation. A writer of the 
Cape Colony once asked, in an ironical tone, if the 
French Protestant Missionaries were Quakers, that their 
disciples appeared everywhere unarmed, taking nothing 
with them on their journey but their staff and a little 
bag of books. 

Alas ! cruel disappointments were to bring about a 
reaction, which soon caused our detractors to change 
their tone. The encroachments of our race were about 
to re-kindle the warlike instincts of the natives, and to 
lead many of them to see in Christianity nothing more 
than a series of precepts without practice, and theories 
without application. The demands and pre-occupations 
of politics w T ould stifle the voice of conscience, and fur- 
nish a number of people, especially the chiefs, with a 
specious pretext for putting off indefinitely those reforms 
which were distasteful to them. From that day we 
dated our most serious difficulties. 

Moshesh, whose mind had been greatly enlightened, 
but whose heart had not yet been brought into subjec- 



118 THE BASUTOS. 

tion by the Gospel, appeared from this time to give very 
divided attention to the instructions of the Mission- 
aries; and several of his sons became entirely indif- 
ferent to them. 

It is well known with what carelessness the govern- 
ment of the Cape has allowed a number of the families 
of the colony to escape from its authority, and advance 
indefinitely beyond the frontiers, It was not, however, 
difficult to foresee the consequences of this emigration, 
the cause of which sufficiently explained the object in 
view. What could be expected from people who exiled 
themselves, chiefly because they had been obliged to 
emancipate their slaves? 

These emigrants, at first few in number, gave no 
offence to the tribes amongst whom they appeared. 
They seemed so humble, so submissive ! they merely 
asked permission to sojourn in the thinly populated 
parts of the country, and their stay was to be but tem- 
porary; but soon finding their number considerably 
augmented, they thought themselves strong enough to 
throw off the mask, and to nominate chiefs. 

War soon broke out: then the government of the 
colony were awakened by the discharge of musketry, 
and a few dragoons crossed the river Orange. The 
sight of these troops acted as a magic spell ; the bril- 
liancy of their armour awed the emigrant colonists as 
well as the natives. The belligerent parties laid down 
their arms, and grave diplomatists opened a congress, 
hoping to find some remedy for the evils which they 
ought to have foreseen and prevented. 



JOUENEYS OF EXPLORATION. 119 

They were still occupied in seeking this remedy, 
when a new governor, covered with laurels which he 
had won in India, passed through these disordered 
tribes with the rapidity of a meteor, and w r ith one stroke 
of his sword cut the Gordian knot. He proclaimed the 
sdvereignty of the Queen of England over all the land: 
this sovereignty, however, was to be entirely moral ; 
the mantle of its protection was to be spread equally 
over wdiite and black, under which, as children of one 
mother, they might rest in security. Each was to re- 
main where he w 7 as, and enjoy what he already pos- 
sessed, but there were to be no more encroachments. 
The rights of Moshesh especially were to be sacred. 
This chief neither sold nor let out any land ; he merely 
showed a hospitality, which ought to secure him the 
esteem of all parties. Magistrates were to be appointed 
over the white population to keep them in check, and 
to protect them ; the natives w r ere to govern themselves 
according to their own laws. 

If this man had been able to remain on the spot, 
and see that his plans were put into execution, perhaps 
his lively imagination and his fertile and energetic 
mind would have suggested to him such generous in- 
consistencies as might have brought about gradually, 
and without any violent shock, a somewhat equitable 
fusion; but, with the exception of Moshesh and his 
subjects — the ancient and lawful possessors of the soil 
— every one in the country found it to be his interest 
to change this moral sovereignty into a material one 
as quickly as possible. 



120 THE BASUTOS. 

The English agents soon began to cut and clip on 
every side, as in a conquered country, to enlarge the 
farms of the emigrants. Those of the natives whose 
villages were near these farms were ordered to depart, 
or to conform to new laws. Foreign chiefs, to whom 
the sovereign of the Basutos had afforded an asylum, 
taking advantage of this new order of things, declared 
themselves exclusive possessors of the district where 
hospitality had been generously shown to them, and 
were supported in their pretensions by the colonial 
authorities. 

This was too much. The Basutos could no longer 
restrain their indignation, and intestine war was the 
result, the incidents of which we shall not touch upon 
here. Let it suffice to say that, for nearly four years, 
cries of alarm or songs of victory were continually to 
be heard around our stations. During this struggle 
the Basutos regained a part of the territory which had 
been wrested from them ; they might have disappeared 
altogether before the English Government understood 
the part it was made to play in these distant regions. 
This misfortune was prevented by the intrepidity they 
showed at the fire of the first cannon that ever ap- 
peared in their mountains. 

It was by no means the intention of Great Britain 
to defray the expenses of a war which promised neither 
glory nor profit. As soon as she saw that the terror 
of her name was not sufficient to hold in check those 
who had suffered by her negligence, she withdrew her 
troops and her magistrates. It would have showed 



JOURNEYS OF EXPLORATION. 121 

superior wisdom if it had been possible, at the same 
time, to withdraw the colonists who had been the first 
cause of all this evil. In reality, nothing is changed ; 
the two rival races still exist, and the strict neutrality 
upon which England prides herself is very often merely 
nominal. 

The chiefs have to battle with difficulties that were 
unknown to their fathers. The excessive independence 
of their vassals — the facility with which, in the absence 
of fixed laws, evil-disposed persons can take advantage 
of the general discontent to commit acts of spoliation 
or personal vengeance — the ever-increasing demands 
of their new neighbours — all concur to sink them into 
a state of despondency which often ends in their com- 
plete demoralisation. The diviners and supporters of 
ancient superstitions turn to their own account the fears 
of these ignorant and impressionable people. 

To this day the governors, who have succeeded 
each other at the Cape, have hardly had any other 
exterior policy than that imposed upon them as the 
result of the encroachments of the colonists. The 
mother-country views with uneasiness the indefinite 
growth of possessions, the preservation of which is a 
useless burden upon her treasury. Brave soldiers re- 
luctantly draw the sword against men who are more 
w T orthy of compassion and interest than of hatred. The 
evil will not cease till, inquiry being made into the 
material and moral condition of these tribes, a firm and 
paternal policy is adopted towards them, which, on one 
side, will encourage them as to their future prospects, 



122 THE BASUTGS. 

and guarantee the preservation of their territory, which 
is indispensable to them; and, on the other, aid in 
repressing those acts of personal vengeance and indi- 
vidual spoliation which are infallibly engendered among 
them by a state of hostility. Too many regulations 
have been made for them, without having any just idea 
of their history, their customs, or of what they stand 
in need. We should esteem ourselves happy if this 
work should in any way contribute to make them better 
known. Is it not a deplorable fact that, at a time when 
science cultivates so intelligently, and perpetuates with 
so much care, all material forces, all the riches that 
are hid in nature, we care so little about preserving 
the varieties of our own species, who only differ from 
us in certain respects because an all-wise God has 
appointed them to concur in the harmonious develop- 
ment of plans that he has made for his own glory, and 
for the happiness of mankind ? What is called the 
prejudice against colour, is nothing less than a prejudice 
against the arrangements of Providence. Cicero recom- 
mended his friend Atticus not to have any Breton slaves, 
as their stupidity was such that they were of no ser- 
vice at all. This appreciation must appear singularly 
ridiculous to the literary men and the manufacturers 
of Wales, or the country that gave birth to Chateau- 
briand. The prejudice to which oiir black brethren 
are victims has no better foundation. God grant that 
our race may shake it off before it has committed an 
irreparable fratricide ! 



123 



*s£8^ft& 




A BAKOLONG VILLAGE. 



PART II. 

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE BASUTOS. 



CHAPTER IX 

TILLAGES — HABITATIONS UTENSILS — DOMESTIC 

OCCUPATIONS. 

The first glance at a village of Basutos is sufficient 
to prove that these tribes have long been nomadic. 
The settlement is nearly always in the form of a vast 
circle, the centre being occupied by the flocks, while 
the huts form the circumference. The highest spot 



124 THE BASUTOS. 

is reserved for the habitation of the chief. It is an 
encampment become permanent. 

The natives, in forming their settlements, have felt 
the necessity of bestowing some care on the choice of 
the site. The tribes who inhabit countries where the 
rains are frequent invariably place their dwellings on 
the hills, on account of the insalubrity of the low 
ground. They are careful that the aspect should be 
good, and say it is essential that the first rays of the 
rising run should fall without any obstacle upon the 
fold which contains their flocks. The site being chosen, 
the chief religiously drives into the ground a peg 
covered over with charms, in order that the town may 
be firmly nailed to the soil ; and that neither war nor 
any other misfortune may come to distress the in- 
habitants, and force them to change their abode. 

Not far from the chief's residence is a large court, 
formed by a circle of rushes or boughs. This is the 
general place of resort for the men. Here public 
affairs are discussed, law-suits decided, and criminal 
causes judged: it is also a place of halt for strangers, 
and news may be had there from distant countries. If 
Art has not yet found her way to this primitive forum, 
Eloquence is well known there; and this enchantress 
has spread over the wild simplicity of the Khotla a 
prestige almost as great as that which surrounds our 
own Houses of Parliament Women are not allowed to 
enter this court — they only approach it to bring food 
to their husbands when the latter think fit to take their 
meals in public. The chief counsellors of a sovereign 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 125 

bear the honorary title of Men of the Khoila. This 
appellation, be it said — with all due deference to the 
frequenters of our palaces with gilded domes — signifies 
neither more nor less than men of the court, or courtiers. 
Men of mature age, who seldom appear in these pre- 
cincts, are despised as effeminate, or indifferent to public 
affairs; the old chiefs continually exhort their sons to 
be constant in their attendance there, to receive travel 7 
lers, and gain information from what they may have 
to relate. 

In the centre of the village are large enclosures, 
which are perfectly round among those tribes who 
are still in their primitive condition, and square among 
those who have yielded to the influence of European 
civilisation. These enclosures, in the woody countries 
of the north, are formed of branches of the mimosa. 
The Basutos and the Caffres form them of walls, which 
are generally about six feet in height; the cattle are 
shut in every evening. Though this quarter of the 
town is much frequented, there are but few tribes who 
allow women to visit it; the ground is so holy, that it 
serves as a burial-place for the chiefs and their families. 

The huts are everywhere primitive and inconvenient 
to the highest degree. The natives have no idea of what 
we call a house ; it appears to them unnatural to live 
between walls during the day, when the weather is 
fine — and in Africa it is almost always fine. All 
their business, all their labours, are performed under 
the vault of heaven : even the housewives, though very 
jealous of their rights, find that a slight fence of rushes 



126 



THE BASUTOS. 



is quite sufficient to protect their kitchen from all 
profanation. The hut, therefore, properly speaking, 
is merely a retreat, held in reserve in case it becomes 
absolutely necessary to seek shelter from the inclemency 
of the weather or the public gaze. It is used as a 
sleeping-place when it is cold or wet. There man 
enters the world, and there he dies; — there he receives 
those attentions that sickness requires, and there are 
stored up the most valuable objects possessed by the 
family. These retreats are small, but the number 
is augmented as occasion requires : a polygamist, for 
instance, always has the same number of huts as of 
wives. 




TRANSVKBSAL SECTION OF A BaROLONG HUT. 



In the country of the Batlapis, the Barolongs, and 
the Baharutsis, where the heat is excessive and wood 
abundant, the hut is high and well ventilated; it is in 
the form of a conical dome, round which is a little 
verandah which serves to support the roof, at the same 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 127 

time preserving the interior partitions from the burning 
rays of the sun, and affording an agreeable shade. 
The Basutos, who inhabit a mountainous country, 
endeavour to shut out the cold and wet. Their huts 
are in the form of a large oval oven, and are entered 
by creeping along a very narrow passage, which serves 
to prevent the w r ind from reaching the interior. The 
walls are perfectly well plastered, and often decorated 
with ingenious designs. The women take the greatest 
care of the huts: they plaster the ground with a very 
solid composition, to which they manage to give a polish 




HUT OF THE BASUTOS . 



which is not only pleasant to the view, but is favourable 
to the maintenance of cleanliness. The chief defect of 
these huts, next to their small size, is the absence of all 
means of ventilation. I shall never forget the terror 
whfch seized me when first I found myself shut up, 
with ten or twelve persons, in one of these stoves, 
I thought myself in imminent danger of suffocation, 
and hastened out. The sight of the star-lit heaven 
calmed this involuntary agitation, and, wrapping myself 
in my mantle, I stretched myself by the side of some 
dogs that were keeping watch at the door. Never- 
theless, the azure skies are not altogether without in- 



128 THE BASUTOS. 

convenience in a country where scorching days are suc- 
ceeded by very fresh nights. I was therefore obliged, 
after sulking for an hour or two, to do justice to the 
hut, esteeming myself fortunate to be permitted to find a 
corner in the least comfortable parts of this dark den. 

The beds used for sleeping are as uncomfortable 
as the dormitory itself. For a mattress the poor are 
content with a mat or an ox-skin, rendered tough and 
smooth by being well stretched; the rich cover them- 
selves up with their warmest furs. The idea has never 
entered the heads, even of the obsequious valets of 
such potentates as Dingan or Moselekatsi, to place 
an armful of straw between the ground and the per- 
sons of their royal masters. The Africans seem to 
have entered into an agreement with sleep, and to be 
able to call it at will. They consider it as so great a 
blessing — it appears to them so sweet and so natural 
to sleep whenever the smallest degree of calm is to 
be enjoyed — that they have not thought it necessary 
to do anything to facilitate or increase this pleasure. 
" The earth sleeps, we sleep the sleep? they say, in their 
expressive language, when they congratulate themselves 
upon the enjoyment of perfect peace. I knew a chief 
who, after long years of repose and prosperity, could 
not get rid of the impression left upon him by the 
sleepless nights he had passed in times of misfortune ; 
he mechanically repeated, every morning, the cry which 
had formerly escaped him when, after a few hours' 
repose, he perceived the first dawn of the morning: 
u Aha! aha! I have slept; I see the light again !" 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 129 

Among the tribes of the North, the most remote 
part of the hut generally serves as a receptacle for 
the matlulis — enormous vases of coarse earthenware, 
containing the provision of wheat.* The Basutos de- 
posit in the same retreat, which is only separated from 
the rest of the apartment by a slight rising in the 
ground, pots of beer which are already drinkable, or 
at different stages of fermentation; and bowls of milk, 
slowly decomposing, until it has reached the degree of 
sourness esteemed by practiced palates. 

Not far off, heaps of fat or butter are often found, 
which serve for the daily anointing in w T hich persons 
in easy circumstances indulge. All this has not a very 
agreeable odour, but habit renders it bearable. A shield, 
two or three javelins, some calabashes, some vases of 
earthenware or soft wood, a few spoons fash- 
ioned in an artistic manner, the pyramidal hat, 
with which, in rainy or very hot weather, the 
proprietor covers his head, some feathers and 
other trumpery, with which they adorn them- 
selves for the dance, are fastened or hung up 
along the walls. I forgot to mention the primi- 
tive implement for procuring a light, which, by 
means of friction, causes the fuel itself to emit 
fire.f 

The door, or rather the neck, by which they go in 
and out of the hut, leads into a circular court, sur- 

* See in the first hut, p. 126. 

t See the engraving of the first hut, p. 126 ; the native there 
represented is engaged in obtaining fire by this proceeding. 

K 




130 THE BASUTOS. 

rounded by rushes or branches. In this place is the 
fire, and here the family are generally assembled. No 
one is found missing when, in the dusk of the evening, 
the mistress of the household deposits in a kind of 
trough the smoking productions of her culinary art. 
The circle draws in round the flickering blaze, each 
one anxious to catch a glimpse, at least, of the first 
morsel he puts in his mouth. Perhaps I may be mis- 
taken; but since I have sat at these primitive firesides, I 
think I have better been able to understand what David 
meant, when he spoke of lying among the pots. To 
lie upon the hearth would be in that country a proof of 
misery and destitution. At night, when the family have 
retired to rest, a few shivering dogs, or some other 
poor wretches, cower over the hot ashes. The and- 
irons are stones on which the pots are placed, and there 
must be at least five or six of them to form a hearth. 
The poor creature who goes to find repose there must, 
of course, arrange these stones before lying down. It 
is easily understood, that only the special care of Pro- 
vidence could enable one to leave such a couch as un- 
defiled as a dove whose w T ings are covered with silver. 
(See Ps. lxviii. 13.) 

After having inspected the Khotla, and the huts of 
an African village, there is nothing more to be seen ; 
and the only method of furnishing food for any further 
curiosity, is to watch the occupations of those persons 
who have not been called to the fields by agricultural 
labours, or the care of the flocks. 

We will stop first, and with good reason, before 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 131 

the principal workman, the only one whose labours 
amount to anything like art. Indeed, if no Mochuana 
yields the palm to his neighbour, in the manufacture of 
most of the objects which are necessary to him, all 
acknowledge the blacksmith to be an exceptional cha- 
racter. He is more than a workman, he is the ugaka 
ea tsepe — the doctor of iron. They say that, in order 
to succeed in this branch, one must undergo mysterious 
purifications, and swallow the juice of certain plants. 

A long apprenticeship appears necessary; and only 
the inducement of a fat ox can conquer the aversion 
of the initiated to allow of a rival. It can hardly be 
denied, when we consider the implements these men use, 
that there is somewhat of magic in the results they obtain. 

The anvil is merely a large mass of basalt, or granite ; 
the hammer to beat the iron a conical stone, held with 
both hands. 




BOY BLOWING THE BELLOWS. 



The bellows consists of two long, narrow bags, both 
ending in a horn tube, which concentrates the wind 



132 



THE BASUTOS. 



and conveys it to the hearth. The end opposite to the 
tube is furnished with two small sticks of wood, parallel 
to each other, which, by being pressed one against the 
other, shut at pleasure the opening which serves to 
admit the air. 

A boy, seated on the ground, gives a cross-move- 
ment to these bags, by drawing them to him, and push- 
ing them to the fireplace alternately, while the fingers 
of each hand, passed through two loops, open and shut 
at the right moment, to imprison the fluid atmosphere. 
Some coarse pincers and two or three small hammers 
complete the stock of tools of the forge. With these 
primitive instruments the natives shape the iron to 
their liking, solder pieces of any 
size, and even contrive to ornament 
certain products with chasing, which 
presents a very pleasing appearance. 
They also work in copper, and are 
tolerably expert in fine-drawing it. 

In weapons, they forge assagais, 
or spears, and hatchets. For do- 
mestic uses they make two-edged 
knives, which they wear hanging 
from the neck, in a sheath composed 
of two slips of wood, neatly joined; 
very good hoes, and large awls, 
which they use in sewing their furs. 
Among the products of their in- 
dustry, I must not forget the lebeho, 
a kind of spatula, slightly bent 




LANCE OR ASSAGAI, AND 
HATCHET, 






MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 



133 




back, which serves the African all the purpose of a 
handkerchief. 

It will, probably, be asked, how the 
natives procure iron. The greater part 
of the country they inhabit is rich in 
ore. In order to see the working of it 
we must leave the village, and direct 
our steps towards that clump of trees, 
from which a cloud of smoke arises. 
We shall find there a circular fireplace, 
on which is heaped up a large quantity 
of embers, and a little ore. From the 
centre proceed, like so many rays, a 
considerable number of pipes, made of 
baked clay. These pipes are suffi- 
ciently long to allow the vigorous apprentices to blow 
with all their might, without expe- 
riencing much inconvenience from' 
the heat. As soon as the fusion has 
taken place, and the metal coagulated, 
it is beaten out, and is again and 
again exposed to heat, in order to 
cleanse it from all extraneous matter. 
In spite of this labour, the natives 
complain that their iron is often mixed 
with ashes and earth. To make up 
for this, those pieces that are free 
from dross are nearly as hard as 
steel, which doubtless arises from the immediate contact 
of charcoal with the ore. 




SPATULAS. 



134 THE BASUTOS. 

But an extraordinary noise calls us back to the 
village. It is a mixture of nasal grunts, clucking, and 
shrill cries, which, though most discordant, are in per- 
fect time. One would imagine it to be a chorus of 
bears, boars, and baboons. All this uproar is made 
round the skin of an ox, which is to be rendered soft 
enough for the body of a biped. A dozen men, in a 
squatting position, seize it by turns, rub it between 
their hands, twist it, and toss it about with such rapi- 
dity, and in such a ridiculous manner, that it really 
seems as if their bad treatment had put life into it. 
Every effort, every turn, is accompanied by one of 
those strange sounds, which we could not account for. 
As the work advances, the sounds become louder and 
quicker, and soon amount to frenzy. The heads of the 
labourers seemed turned; they are beside themselves 
with the noise and the madness of their song. Some 
imitate the graceful movements of the gazelle; others 
spring upon their prey with the fury of the lion ; others, 
again, without discontinuing their work, amuse them- 
selves with the corners of the skin, as a cat would with 
a mouse. All at once the noise ceases ; the skin is as 
supple as a glove; it is carried off with a shout of 
triumph; and the noisy fellows refresh themselves with 
a few jugs of beer, the only payment they expect. 

In the public court, around the chief who is busy 
in settling all disputes, may be seen wise-looking men, 
deliberating about the cut of some furs with as much 
earnestness as if they were about to perform on the 
most valuable stuff in the world. At length a knife> 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 



135 



guided by neither ruler nor compasses, traces, without 
hesitation, straight lines, parallelograms, and circles, 
which defy criticism. 

This accomplished, our artists uncover their chest, 
and seek there the narrow sheath 
containing their faithful awl, and 
then courageously set about pierc- 
ing imperceptible holes, through 
which only lynx eyes can pass a 
piece of thread, loosely twisted. 
Each stitch must be conscientiously 
fastened, so as to hold if its neigh- 
bour should happen to break : un- 
heard-of labour, when we consider 
the long, narrow strips, of which 
the most elegant mantles are com- 
posed. We have already seen that this employment 
is considered so honourable among the Bechuanas, that 
the chiefs themselves are not above assisting in it. 

These potentates also pride themselves upon cutting 
out in a skilful manner the leathern shields, with which 
they supply their subjects. This weapon of defence as- 
sumes different forms among the various tribes. Those 
of the Caffres are oval, and cover the whole person. 
The Bechuanas affirm, that this advantage is more than 
outweighed by the embarrassment caused by this flexible 
substance when there is much rain or wind. They pre- 
fer a light shield, cut from the thickest part of the skin 
of an ox. Among the Basutos, the field is surmounted by 
a half-moon placed upside-down. The Barolongs and 




136 



THE BASUTOS. 



the Batlapis give to theirs the form of a rectangle, edged 
at the top and bottom by two rounded wings. The dif- 
ferent corps are distinguished by the colour of their 
shields. One phalanx can only bear white; another, 

spotted, and, in certain cases, 
the spots must be arranged in 
a particular way. Many an 
ox owes a premature death to 
a few white or red hairs. The 
skin undergoes no preparation, 
so as to lose nothing of its 
stiffness. To the inside of the 
skin is fastened a sort of handle, 
by means of which the weapon 
is easily held on the wrist. 
The shield is always accom- 
panied by a plume of ostrich- 
feathers, arranged in the form 
of a thyrsus round a stick of 
wood. 

Among the various preparations which the skins 
of animals undergo in this country, where they are found 
in such abundance, we must not omit to mention that 
portion of covering which is indispensable wherever 
all sense of decency is not lost. How, indeed, should we 
conceal the purpose of that triangular scarf, which has 
been rendered so supple? The man who prepares it 
will put it on like an apron, and after having fastened it 
by two ends round his loins, a little above the hips, will 
give the remaining corner the necessary direction and 




LEATHERN SHIELD. 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 



137 



fasten it to the other two ends. Besides this girdle you 
will see something far more ample in its dimensions, 
which belongs to the other sex, and is worn like a petti- 
coat, coming down to the knees. We must add, in jus- 
tice to the Bechuanas, that if modesty is confined within 
too narrow limits among them, these limits are at least 
as sacred with them as ours are with us. Why can we 
not say as much for the tribes of Caffraria? There, man 
is in a complete state of nudity, and, strange to say, in no 
part of South Africa are the women so much covered as 
there ! 




THE SESSIOU. 



We shall find more pleasure in following the gradual 
enlargement of this enormous basket, which rises full 
and round, finally presenting the form of a globe, having 
the two poles slightly flattened. Its texture is not firm, 



138 



THE BASUT0S. 



because it is intended to swell, stiffen, and become imper- 
vious to rain, by the pressure of grain, which will be 
heaped into it by means of heavy levers. It is only to 
be regretted that it is not formed of a more durable sub- 
stance. The workman places near him a few bundles of 
plaiting materials, and two or three sheaves of a certain 
dry grass, very long and tough. He has in his hand a needle 
with two eyes, so that the material he interweaves should 
not get unthreaded. He takes a handful of grass, and 
gives it the form of a small disc, which he interweaves in 
all directions until it is firm, and cannot become un- 
rolled. This done, nothing more remains but to go on 
sewing to the part already formed twists of grass of 
equal thickness, until the basket finishes in an orifice of 
six or eight inches in diameter. 

With more solid materials they make, in the same 

manner, very pretty bas- 
kets, in the form of a 
bell considerably extended, 
which the women carry 
on their heads ; and little 
baskets, the texture of 
which is so firm that they 
hold liquids. 

The Bechuanas and 
Caffres seem to have a 
natural taste for plaiting. 
With some straws, and 
BASKETS - reeds of different colours, 

they make themselves necklaces and bracelets, which 




MANNEKS AND CUSTOMS. 



139 



are by no means unornamental. They imitate, without 
any difficulty, our straw-hats, and even attempt to copy 
the felt hat, by cleverly introducing at those parts where 
the stalks cross each other a downy substance, which 
hides the plait, and presents a velvety surface, by no 
means disagreeable to the eye. They twist the filamentous 
fibres of various plants, thus forming a fine kind of string, 
which is very strong. 

In constructing articles of wood they are far less 
ingenious. Still we may 
see, not far from the 
basket-maker, a man who 
seems to notice nothing 
that is passing around him, 
so intently is he studying 
the growing proportions of 
a block of willow-wood, 
which he is cutting with 
a little hatchet, the edge 
of which might be a little 
sharper. He is making 
an oblong cylindrical ves- 
sel, to be used in milking his cows. When the piece has 
attained the desired form he will hollow out the interior 
with a javelin, and with a red-hot iron will ornament the 
borders with black spiral or diamond shapes, in a most 
regular manner. 

If any wood is left, nothing prevents a round or oval 
plate being made of it. The chiefs, who like to see 
the dishes on which they regale their guests and their 




WOODEN VESSELS. 



140 THE BASUTOS. 

children steaming before them, pay dearly enough for 
platters of this kind, if they are at all of a respectable size. 
The carvers of wood also make spoons, which have 
fantastic handles, representing, for instance, a 
giraffe, with head erect, the back slightly arched, 
and the feet resting on the end of the handle. 
The handles of knives and axes used in war are 
generally carved. Sometimes among the amulets 
worn in the necklaces are seen buffalo-heads, 
symbols of strength, which perfectly represent 
the form and physiognomy of the animal. 

The snuff-boxes, which are in universal use, 
and which, for want of pockets, are worn hanging 
from the arm or from the neck, seem, more than 
any other object, to have called into play the 
imagination of the African. Sometimes this 
spoon. ar fci c ] e j s ma( J e f a bone reduced to very small 
dimensions, and covered with a lid of leather; some- 
times of the horn of an antelope, well polished, 
having a wooden bottom, fastened in by slender pins. 
Some snuff-takers prefer a small calabash, which they 
decorate with spots or squares arranged like those of a 
draught-board ; others round a piece of ivory or solid 
horn, and contrive, by dint of patience, to hollow it out 
with a very fine kind of chisel. There are some who 
reduce to a paste the glutinous parings of the skins that 
have been stretched ; and when this substance has been 
pounded and kneaded, it may be easily moulded into any 
form. When dry, it bears a close resemblance to gutta- 
percha. 



MANNEKS AND CUSTOMS. 



141 



The pipe is everywhere shaped in the same manner. 
It is a bowl formed of soft stone, communicating by a 
tube of bamboo with the horn of an antelope, half filled 
with water. In order to inhale the smoke through the 
liquid, the lips must be closely applied to the orifice of 
the horn, and the lungs must be used pretty freely. 
Tobacco has long been in use among the natives, and 




SNUFF-BOXES AND PIPE. 



must have come to them from the Portuguese of Mozam- 
bique ; but in a song, consecrated to the praise of this 
favourite plant, they confess that the use of dagga (a 
kind of hemp, of which the Arabs make hagschisch), is 
much more ancient 

All the labours which we have hitherto noticed 
belong exclusively to the men. In order to see the 
women at work, we must leave the places where their 



142 



THE BASUTOS. 



sex is not allowed to enter, and visit the small courts 
adjoining the huts. 

Nowhere does the preparation of the food and the 
general comfort of the family depend more exclusively 
upon woman than in this country. This arises entirely 
from the exaggerated ideas of the natives as to the dis- 
tinction which is to be maintained between the two 
sexes. The poor housewives generally bear coura- 




WOMAN GRINDING CORN. 



geously the heavy burden which falls to their lot. Every 
morning, before break of day, they may be seen fetching 
the water necessary for the consumption of the dayy after 
which they have to grind the corn by a very laborious 
process, somewhat resembling that of our chocolate- 
makers. They squat upon their heels before a flat 
stone, the surface of which is about two feet in length 
and one in width. This millstone is slightly inclined, 




MOSUTO WOMAN. 



P. 14£. 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 143 

the lower end communicating with a basket, which is 
very wide at the mouth. The workwoman holds in 
both hands an oval-shaped stone, with which, by dint 
of using her whole weight, she crushes the wheat, which 
is placed in small quantities upon the large stone 
below. Sometimes, to lighten their labours, the women 
assemble together, and grind their corn in unison, 
singing an air which perfectly accords with the harmo- 
nious tinkling of the rings on their arms. An hour's 
labour furnishes them with enough flour for one morn- 
ing. It still remains to be cooked before the men come 
in from the folds, where they are occupied in milking 
the cows, and getting everything ready for the departure 
of the shepherds. As soon as the family have eaten 
sufficiently, the mother takes her hoe and goes to work 
in the fields ; she will come back with an enormous 
fagot on her head, a little before sunset, so as to have 
time to draw water, grind, and cook as she did in the 
morning. If her supply of provisions allow, she will 
prepare a greater abundance and variety of food, for the 
supper (selalelo) is the chief meal among these people. It 
is generally taken around the fireside, at the hour of dusk, 
and this custom has bestowed on one of the most beau- 
tiful planets (Vesper) the trivial name of Sefalaboho, 
Dish-cleaner ; or of Kopa-selalelo, Ask-for-supper. 

All the provisions of a vegetable kind and every- 
thing appertaining to the dairy are understood to belong 
to the woman, and the husband cannot dispose of any 
of it without her permission. The flocks and herds, on 
the contrary, are under the entire control of the men. 



144 THE BASUTOS. 

Nothing would be more out of place than the mistress of 
the house taking upon herself to order an animal to be 
killed. This arrangement may be traced back to the 
patriarchal era. While Sarah kneaded cakes, Abraham 
ran to the fold, chose out a calf tender and good, and 
gave it to a servant to dress. Among the Bechuanas, 
the cooking would have been Sarah's business, a circum- 
stance upon which I often had occasion to congratulate 
myself. The men, when compelled by circumstances to 
prepare their own food, are coarse and disgusting in the 
extreme. I recollect once travelling with a chief for six 
or eight days, during which fifteen oxen were killed ; I 
could hardly touch a morsel. The slaughter took place 
at nightfall. While the poor animal was still struggling, 
an enormous fire was kindled by the younger of the 
party, who seemed famishing. Those employed in strip- 
ping off the skin, even before they had finished their 
task, greedily shared amongst themselves a piece of the 
tail, scarcely broiled, or a sinew, shrivelled up by the 
flames ; a foretaste, terribly hard, but still welcome, of 
the feast which was preparing. Then came the cutting- 
up. From this moment nothing more could be seen but 
a confusion of men hurrying to and fro to throw upon 
the hearth the bleeding pieces which they had managed 
to seize. Ashes, filth, embers, no one minded it. It 
was a real burnt-offering, an eddying cloud of smoke, 
through which nothing could be seen, and enough to 
attract all the jackals in the neighbourhood. 

The women cook the meat with particular care. 
They have only one way of dressing it, but that is a 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 145 

good one. The meat is neatly placed in a large earthen 
pot, half full of water, which is covered hermetically 
enough to allow no steam to escape. The meat thus 
cooked is tender and savoury, and would be appreciated 
anywhere. We can hardly say as much for the pud- 
dings they make morning and evening, which are to the 
CafFre race what bread is to our own. They are very 
insipid food, much too doughy, but nourishing and very 
wholesome. Foreigners generally prefer lehala, a very 
nice kind of pap, made of milk, for which the flour of 
the sorgho, which has a slightly sweet taste, is particu- 
larly suitable. They also relish the mashi, or rnafi, a 
kind of curds, which is really delicious. 

In the south of Africa, it is only the children who 
drink milk in a sweet state; it is generally left to get 
sour in large earthen pans, or in bottles of quagga-skin. 
After two or three days the whey is carefully separated 
from the congealed mass, and in its stead they add a 
little sweet milk or cream, to allay the sourness of the 
curds. When one arrives, after travelling under a 
burning sun, worn out with fatigue, the blood in a 
heated condition, feeling the need of taking some nou- 
rishment, the stomach having lost its tone from the 
warmish water one has drunk at the stagnant pools of 
the desert, nothing is so agreeable and refreshing as this 
curd, somewhat sour in taste, the whiteness of which is 
agreeably set off by the red glazing of the pretty round 
vessel which contains it. 

The preparation of the beer is a laborious task for 
the women ; but as most of them are extremely fond 

L 



146 THE BASUT0S. 

of this beverage, they make it without much pressing. 
After having left the grain to sprout, they grind it, and 
pour upon the flour a quantity of boiling water, suffi- 
cient to reduce the mixture to a paste. When this 
mass is cold, some water and yeast are added, and fer- 
mentation commences immediately. Two or three days 
afterwards the liquid is placed on the fire, and boiled 
several times, to strengthen it ; and for the same pur- 
pose a few handfuls of fresh flour are added to it; after 
which it is strained. 

During those intervals, when the women are not 
employed in the preparation of food, the care of the 
children, and agricultural labours, they occupy them- 
selves in the manufacture of earthenware, in which they 
display a good deal of skill. With- 
out any other aid than a crock to 
scrape away the clay as they 
work it, they contrive to make 
vases as perfectly round as those 
turned on a lathe. They do not varnish them badly, 
but rarely succeed in baking them as well as they wish, 
as the only convenience for doing this is a fire of dry 
dung, kindled in the open air. 

In those African communities which have not yet 
yielded to any of the influences of civilisation, it is very 
seldom that a day passes without the occupations we 
have just enumerated being interrupted by dances of 
longer or shorter duration. The only exception is in 
seed-time, harvest, and seasons of severe cold. The 
Basutos and the Caffres are passionately fond of a kind 




EARTHENWARE VESSELS. 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 147 

of war-dance, at which the women are only present to 
aid by their songs and cries. A circle is formed by 
some hundreds of robust men, having the head adorned 
with tufts and plumes, and a panther's skin thrown over 
the left shoulder. The signal is given, the war-song 
commences, and the mass moves simultaneously, as if it 
were but one man. Every arm is in motion, every head 
turns at once, the feet of all strike the ground in time 
with such force, that the vibration is felt for more than 
two hundred yards. Every muscle is in movement, 
every feature distorted, the most gentle countenances 
assume a ferocious and savage expression* The more 
violent the contortions, the more beautiful the dance is 
considered. This lasts for hours, the song continues as 
loud, and the frantic gestures lose none of their vigour. 
A strange sound is heard during the short intervals, 
when the voices are silent in accordance with the mea- 
sure ; it is the panting of the dancers, their breath es- 
caping with violence, and sounding afar off like an 
unearthly death-rattle. This obstinate prolongation of 
so fatiguing an exercise arises from the challenges made 
to each other by the young men, which are even sent 
from one village to another. The question is, Who can 
keep up the longest ? The gain of an ox often depends 
upon a few more leaps. Dancers have been seen to 
fall down dead on the spot; others receive injuries 
which are difficult to cure. There is another war- 
dance which is less fatiguing, and which might be called 
the charge. To perform this they form themselves in 
a straight line, and then run forward singing, as if they 



148 THE BASUTOS. 

were about to attack an enemy. When they have 
reached a certain distance they halt; some men leave 
the ranks, fence from right to left, and then return to 
their comrades, who receive them with great acclama- 
tions. As soon as the line is again unbroken they 
return in the same manner to their starting-point. 

The dances in which both sexes take part are of 
quite a different character. The movements are slow 
and effeminate, but seldom graceful. The women gene- 
rally have a long stick in the hand; which, in addition 
to the cries they utter, the grimaces they make, and the 
ridiculous movements they give to their short petticoats, 
always reminded me of the witches in Macbeth. The 
similarity is so much the more striking, as these gro- 
tesque ballets are generally performed by moonlight. 
The lugubrious and monotonous sound of a kind of 
tambourine is in tolerable accordance with the clapping 
of hands and the clamour of all present. 

This kind of tambourine is nothing more than a cala- 
bash, or a pot of clay, covered with a skin stretched to 
the utmost extent. It is accompanied by the lesiba, the 
sharp sounds of which would soon put any nervous per- 
son to flight. A cord, resembling the string of a violin, 
is stretched along a short bamboo, which is slightly 
curved. This cord has at one end a piece of quill, slit 
in two lengthways, and flattened. The performer places 
the end to which the quill is fastened between his half- 
closed fingers and the palm of his hand, then placing his 
lips upon his fingers thus arranged, he draws in the air 
pretty strongly, which causes the quill and the cord to 




MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 149 

vibrate; a shrill nasal sound is produced, not unlike 
those drawn from a clarionet by a novice. 

I was near forgetting the tumo, a small bow some- 
thing like the lesiba, but still more curved ; it has no 
quill, but is fastened over a large 
calabash, with a hole bored through 
it. In order to play this instrument, 
it is held by one end in the left hand, 
in such a manner that the forefinger 
and the thumb are free, and can 
touch the string at pleasure. In the 
other hand is a slight wand, with 
w T hich the performer strikes the cord. playing the tumo. 
The sound swells as it passes through the hollow of the 
calabash, and can be varied to a certain degree by 
touching the cord at different heights. 

It is related that Gai'ka, chief of the Amakosas, on 
seeing an English lady at her piano, told her very 
seriously, that he had a thing which could sing much 
better. The lady, very much astonished at finding her 
instrument depreciated by a savage, whom she had 
expected to put in an ecstasy, begged him to show her 
his thing. The chief immediately fetched a tumo, and, 
striking it with the wand with the air of a virtuoso, 
ee There," he said, "you will never equal that!" 

I am sorry for Gaika, but I must say that those of 
his fellow-savages, whom I have seen under the magical 
influence of a piano touched by skilful fingers, have 
given proof of more taste and musical discernment. One 
of them, struck with the sweetness and clearness of the 



150 THE BASUTOS. 

sounds which stirred his very soul, said to his friends, 
" They are voices ringing in water." 

It is more especially the time that charms their ear. 
Those airs in which the measure is the most marked 
afford them the most pleasure. They can put up with 
the most discordant sounds, provided the time is well kept. 

To increase the pleasure they find in the regular 
movements of the hands and feet during the dance, they 
hang about their persons garlands composed of little 
leathern bells. They consist of a series of little bags, 
each containing one or two small stones. The leather, 
as it gets dry, becomes stiff and slightly sonorous. 

Both the ear and the voice of the adults are generally 
spoilt by the vociferations in which they indulge. The 
half-tones are entirely beyond them, but experience has 
proved to us that this is not a defect of organisation. 
After being a few weeks at school, the children begin to 
improvise a bass or tenor with remarkable accuracy. 

The songs of these tribes consist of short solos, 
followed by a refrain, in which all present join. Often 
it is the news of the day — sometimes a legend. Some 
specimens will be found at the end of this work. 

It is for the purpose of excelling in the dance that 
the African loads his person with glass beads, and 
wears immense copper rings round his neck, arms, 
and ankles. 

There is another kind of decoration of which the 
Basuto warriors are very proud; it consists of little 
marks in the form of a V upside down, and rendered 
indelible by tattooing. This decoration — for such it 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 151 

is — can only be worn after some act of bravery. As 
no colouring matter is introduced into the wound, the 
incision must be very deep, in order that the marks may 
never disappear, and the performance is sometimes fol- 
lowed by dangerous inflammation. While the vain 
warrior undergoes this operation his friends dance round 
him, and boast of his prowess. 

Some girls, also, think they must distinguish them- 
selves by making lines in the same manner round their 
eyes, and all down their cheeks, ending under the chin. 
There is great glee and frolic on the day when these 
young ladies adorn themselves in this manner at the 
expense of their own feelings. They go to the next 
village, to carry off the letsoka from one of their 
friends. This is a stick, with which the meat is turned 
in the cooking apparatus. The theft is no sooner dis- 
covered than all the inhabitants of the village pursue 
the delinquents. They know what it means, and expect 
some festivity. On reaching the dwelling of the 
offenders they find an ox lying on the ground, and 
large fires prepared to roast the flesh. They then 
begin to sing, dance, and feast, until the disfigured 
beauties come, with bleeding faces, to join in the chorus 
of the crowd. 

The engraving at the end of this chapter will show 
the reader, grouped together, some of the objects which 
the natives wear on their persons. In the centre is 
a kind of doll, the purpose of which will be explained 
elsewhere. Near the head of this rude figure are ex- 
posed to view necklaces and girdles, made of glass 



152 



THE BASUTOS. 



beads, or little balls of wood, iron, and copper. To 
the right are seen suspended, from one of the necklaces, 
an amulet and some whistles; underneath are two 
bracelets and a large necklace in massive copper. At 
the top, on the left, is an ornament for the head, which 
is worn as a sort of top-knot : to the cords of which it is 
composed are attached hoofs of the antelope, which, in 
the dance, make a noise resembling that of castanets. 
A little lower down are some ear-rings, an ivory bracelet 
— the symbol of power — and a kind of cockade of 
glass beads, which is worn round the neck. At the 
bottom is a little tortoise-shell, with a string at the top 
of it ; this is the scent-box of the ladies of this country : 
they fill it with the powder of an odoriferous wood, which 
is much esteemed. 




PERSONAL ORNAMENTS. 



153 



CHAPTER X. 

MEANS OF EXISTENCE — PKOPERTY — THE CHASE. 

The tribes of South Africa are essentially pastoral. The 
flocks and herds they possess have hitherto constituted 
their chief wealth. They enable them to meet the 
expenses incurred by alliances, marriages, ransoms, sick- 
ness, and interments. Whoever possesses no cattle has no 
means of existence. For this reason the Basutos call the 
bovine species the hairy pearl. From their earliest in- 
fancy their imagination feasts upon the form and colour 
of the cattle, which are continually before their eyes. 
The little boys forget their play to discuss the merits of 
a certain cow. Their favourite amusement is to form 
oxen out of clay. These little figures, which are not 
altogether devoid of merit, prove how great an impres- 
sion the subject has made on the brains of the young 
artists. 

The care of the flocks is considered a very noble 
occupation, and worthy of the attention of persons of 
high rank. The sons of the most powerful chiefs must, 
for a certain number of years, lead the life of simple 
shepherds. Some chiefs even make a point of inter- 
rupting, from time to time, the course of their adminis- 



154 THE BASUTOS. 

tration, in order to return to the occupation of their 
early youth; this is always considered very meritorious, 
and is more especially done when it is necessary to drive 
the cattle to distant pastures. In this case the chiefs 
have with them a number of shepherds, and temporary 
pens are erected at a certain distance from each other, 
in the centre of which is the building where the master 
dwells in person. The latter makes a circuit from time 
to time, and points out to the herdsmen the animals that 
may be killed for their food. They bivouac in this 
manner for weeks together, having no other shelter than 
a cave, a clump of trees, or a kw boughs hastily thrown 
upon each other. In these encampments there are nei- 
ther women nor children. Hunting is the only diversion 
they can enjoy. Such was, doubtless, the position of 
Moses in the wilderness of Horeb; he superintended a 
number of shepherds, who had the immediate care of the 
flocks. 

It is easy to understand that the difficulty of ac- 
quiring cattle must be in proportion to the price, and the 
somewhat sacred character w^hich the Basutos attach to 
them. Before the establishment of any regular relations 
with the colonists of European origin, the natives had 
scarcely any other means of enriching themselves than 
by making war, or speculating upon their daughters, 
w T hom they never gave in marriage without demanding a 
considerable value in return. When the Basutos, who 
had first ventured into the Government lands of the 
Cape, brought back with them the animals with which 
their services had been rewarded, the chief of the tribe 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 155 

was seriously troubled, and for a long time could not be 
persuaded that his subjects had not been guilty of theft, 
or that some snare had not been laid for them : " Take 
care," he often repeated, "that the white men do not 
come some day to reclaim their property, and ask you 
how you can have imagined they were foolish enough to 
give you anything so disproportionate in value to the 
work you have done ! " 

Most of the flocks and herds captured in war become 
the property of the chief; and the subjects regard it as a 
favour to become the depositaries and guardians of these 
new acquisitions. The milk belongs to them ; they use 
the oxen as beasts of burden, and, from time to time, 
obtain permission to kill an animal which is already old ; 
but they must always hold themselves in readiness to 
present the flocks to their real owners when he wishes to 
inspect them. When this favour is once granted, the 
chief cannot withdraw it without good grounds for so 
doing. Such is, in fact, the great social bond of these 
tribes ; the sovereigns, instead of being supported by the 
community, are the chief supporters of it. In certain 
cases, such as a particularly difficult enterprise, or when 
vengeance is to be taken on an enemy who has caused 
all to suffer, the subjects have their share in the spoil. 
The chiefs, after having selected what they think proper, 
distribute the remainder. This largess is rare. Wealth, 
by change of hands, would endanger too much the stabi- 
lity of power. It is a fact, that since the natives have 
been able to obtain cattle by performing services for the 



156 THE BASUTOS. 

colonists, the repressive power of the petty Caffre and 
Bechuana sovereigns has sensibly diminished. 

It is common enough in Europe to hear the epithet 
of nomads applied to the tribes of South Africa, but 
nothing is less correct. The Namaquas and the Bush- 
men, who belong to the Hottentot race, are the only 
ones to whom this appellation applies. The former are 
nomadic, as the Arabs are. The land they inhabit on the 
coast of the Atlantic Ocean being subject to prolonged 
droughts, they find themselves obliged to form no other 
than temporary settlements. The Bushmen, real savages, 
wander about the deserts in search of the game which 
constitutes their only means of existence. As to the 
Bechuanas and the Caffres, they have never been known 
to leave their country, unless they have been compelled 
to do so by an invasion or some other event quite 
exceptional. 

We have undoubted proof that the Basutos have, for 
at least five generations, possessed the territory on 
which we found them in 1833. It is true that the 
natives often change the site of their villages for very 
slight reasons, but it is not to lead a nomadic life, nor to 
abandon their country; they would rather enlarge its 
boundaries. 

The obstinate resistance which the Amakosas, the 
Tembukis, and the Basutos made to the encroachments 
of the colonists, proves how strong is the attachment of 
these tribes to the countries they inhabit. In speaking 
of them, they use expressions which touch the heart and 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 157 

waken enthusiasm : " Home" " our land" " the land of 
our fathers." Something like a superstitious respect for 
the soil has even been observed among them, A chiefs 
on hearing that certain people to whom he had showed 
hospitality presumed to appropriate to themselves the 
district they occupied, coolly observed : " The land of 
my ancestors knows her children! She will reject the 
new-comers !" There was more in this than a figure of 
speech. " You ask me to cut the ground V said the 
sovereign of the Basutos to some white men who had 
settled on his land, and were absolutely determined, by 
means of a line of demarcation traced between them- 
selves and him, to ensure to themselves the exclusive 
possession of the territory they had invaded. " Listen," 
said he, " to a story which is, I am told, in your great 
Book : c It happened once that two women disputed 
about a child before a very wise king. The latter 
ordered the child to be cut in two, and half to be given 
to each of the women. c It is quite just,' said the pre- 
tended mother! 'Let it be divided instantly !' ' Oh, 
no!' cried the real mother, € I would rather lose it en- 
tirely ! ' ' That is the story. . . . You, my friends, who 
are strangers, you think it quite natural that my ground 
should be cut. I, who am born here, I feel my soul 
revolt at the thought. No ; I will not cut it ! Better 
lose it altogether ! " 

At a time of public danger, the same chief, when 
haranguing his people, finished his speech with these 
words : "Are shueleng fatsi la rona ! — Let us die for our 
country ! " The whole assembly was electrified ; and 



158 THE BASUTOS. 

nothing was heard but the words, repeated a thousand 
times, — ". Let us die for our country ! " 

Whenever pastoral tribes tend to unite and form 
themselves into a settled community, they cannot do 
without the aid of agriculture. Nomadic tribes, un- 
ceasingly in search of fresh pastures, and sacrificing 
everything to the prosperity of their flocks, see them 
multiply sufficiently to afford them an abundant supply 
of food, and to deduct annually what is necessary for 
barter. 

It is not the same when the town is founded. The 
cattle, being too much confined, do not prosper as they 
did before ; they become liable to a number of diseases, 
unknown in the solitudes of the desert. Social trans- 
actions increase from day to day ; and the cattle, being 
the only objects of any value in circulation, the pro- 
prietor is obliged to reckon less and less upon his flocks 
and herds for food. The cattle cease to be tamed 
game, and become capital at interest, which must only 
be touched sparingly. From that time the necessity 
of agricultural productions is felt, and their absence is 
equivalent to famine. Thus Jacob, the possessor of 
immense flocks, said to his sons, u Behold, I have heard 
that there is corn in Egypt; go down there and buy 
us some, that we may live and not die." The natives 
of the south of Africa would speak exactly in the same 
manner. They are much more attached to their flocks 
than to their fields, but in all countries favourable to 
agriculture they depend more upon their fields than on 
their flocks for support. 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 159 

Among the Basutos, the Bapelis, and the Zulus, or 
Matebeles of Natal, agriculture is looked upon in the 
most honourable light, and more generally pursued, 
both sexes devoting themselves to it with equal ardour. 
The other tribes still leave to the women the task of 
clearing and sowing the fields ; but this state of things 
is beginning to improve. 

The sale or transfer of land is unknown among 
these people. The country is understood to belong to 
the whole community, and no one has a right >to dispose 
of the soil from which he derives his support. The 
sovereign chiefs assign to their vassals the parts they 
are to occupy ; and these latter grant to every father 
of a family, a portion of arable land proportionate to his 
wants. The land thus granted is insured to the cul- 
tivator as long as he does not change his locality. If 
he goes to settle elsewhere, he must restore the fields to 
the chief under whom he holds them, in order that the 
latter may dispose of them to some other person. The 
bounds of each field are marked with precision ; and 
cases of dispute are referred to the arbitration of the 
neighbours ; and, as a last resort, to the chief himself. 

The possession of pasture land is likewise subject to 
rules, founded on the exigencies of good neighbourhood. 
It is understood that, as far as possible, the inhabitants 
of one locality should prevent their flocks from grazing 
on ground which good sense and the first principles of 
equity pronounce to belong to another hamlet. Among 
the Basutos these considerations are so much the more 
necessary, as it is the duty of every petty village chief 



160 THE BASUTOS. 

to see that a part of the adjacent territory should be 
reserved for winter pasture. As the cattle do not 
browse indifferently upon whatever they find first, but 
choose the most delicate grasses, it is absolutely neces- 
sary that, during the winter, they should be driven to 
those spots where nutritious herbage is still to be found. 
The only disputes relative to the right of pasturage, 
which have come to our knowledge, arose from clan- 
destine encroachments upon the reserved district. 

It is very common to see an important personage 
come, with a numerous retinue and large flocks, and 
settle down indefinitely among a people, with whom he 
hopes to enjoy more peace and prosperity. Custom 
compels him to do homage, by means of a* present, to 
the sovereign who receives him. As soon as this for- 
mality is over, the new-comer takes the title of stranger 
to such a chief. He enjoys great privileges, pays no 
rent, and is not bound to render any service to the 
government. He orders his household according to his 
own customs, and settles himself any differences that 
may arise among his subordinates. No other obligation 
is laid upon him than that of respecting the power 
whose protection he has solicited, as to all that concerns 
the soil and the general interests of the community. 
He cannot appropriate the place he occupies. He is 
not forbidden to cultivate the ground or to build ; but 
if he leaves the country, he has no right to dispose of 
his constructions or his fields. Such seem to have been 
the relations of Abraham with the princes of Canaan. 
" He dwelt in the midst of them as a stranger" In He- 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 161 

brew, and in the idioms of South Africa, this can be 
expressed in one word, for which our languages have 
no equivalent. If this comparison is just, we can better 
understand the liberty the patriarch enjoyed, the ease 
with which he was able to preserve his family from 
heathen manners and institutions, how he was allowed 
to arm three hundred and eighteen servants, and in 
what sense the well and the grove of oaks at Beer- 
sheba belonged to him. 

To return to South Africa, the custom of which we 
speak explains, in a great measure, the little difficulty 
the colonists find in establishing themselves upon the 
lands of the natives. At first, the chiefs are mistaken 
as to the nature of these encroachments. The presents 
they receive, which will hereafter, in proper time and 
place, be artfully interpreted as payment, appear to them 
the homage to which they are accustomed. The illusion 
is dispelled by and bye; but the strangers have come 
nearer, and are able to make resistance. The colonist, 
on being charged to withdraw, refuses to do so. The 
native seizes on his flocks; both parties fly to arms; and 
the colonial government, which, up to that time, has 
neither known nor suspected anything of the affair, runs 
up out of breath and all in a bustle. " Down with the 
muskets ! " they cry to one party ; " Lay down your 
shields and javelins ! " they say to the other. " What is 
all this about?" — "My land!" answers the chief; " they 
have taken my land from me." — " His land!" stammers 
the intruder ; a indeed it was his land ! " — " Well, you 
must withdraw from it!" — "Yes! but this house, this 

M 



162 THE BASUTOS. 

orchard, these fields and enclosures ! All my pos- 
sessions are there ? What compensation do you 
offer me!" Diplomacy is now in great embarrass- 
ment. "My friend!" she says to the amazed black 
man, " you are behind the age, you ought to have driven 
away this white man directly he came!" Driven 
him away! he had done me no injury! He was 
your subject ; I should have thought I was disobliging 
you, had I refused to show him hospitality. My subjects 
go to your land ; you do not drive them away, and when 
they return, they do not bring with them your ground 
clinging to their sandals." " Very well ! I will counsel 
you as a friend. I plainly tell you, that your clubs and 
your assagais will not inspire men with terror who are 
armed with guns. It will be more advantageous for 
you to have to do with me than with these vagrants. 
Give up to me the unlucky corner, where those white 
houses stand. I will maintain order there, and for the 
future you will be wiser yourselves." — " I agree," 
replies the native, " because I do not know what else to 
do." And he departs, stung to the inmost soul, and in a 
state of exasperation, at this refusal of justice, which he 
cannot understand, his heart a prey to the demon of hatred 
and vengeance. 

If in the country of the Bechuanas and Caffres the 
cultivator has not the right to dispose of the ground, he 
enjoys the entire fruits of his labour, and is not bur- 
thened with tithe or rent of any kind. The Basutos 
assemble every year, to dig up and sow the fields appro- 
priated for the personal maintenance of their chief and 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 163 

his first wife. It is interesting to see on these occasions 
hundreds of black men in a straight line raise and lower 
their mattocks simultaneously, and with perfect regu- 
larity. The air resounds with songs, which serve to in- 
vigorate the labourers and keep time in their movements. 
The chief generally makes a point of being present, and 
he takes care that some fat oxen are prepared for the 
consumption of his robust workmen. Every class has 
recourse to the same system to lighten and forward their 
labour ; but among subjects, there is reciprocity. 

The Basutos, as well as all the Bechuanas and the 
CafFres of Natal, use oval hoes, which are very well 
made. The blade is thick in the middle, and gets 
thinner towards the two sides and the lower part, which 
renders it at the same time solid and sharp. It is fur- 
nished at the top with a kind of elongated tail, which is 
inserted into a hole bored in the end of the handle. This 
handle is generally well polished, and slender enough 
to occupy the hollow of the hand without over-fatiguing 
the fingers; it is finished off at the bottom by an oblong 
kind of head, intended to increase the weight of the im- 
plement. With us, the workman handles his hoe as he 
would an axe, driving it into the ground with a violent 
effort ; the Africans merely raise it perpendicularly over 
their heads, and let it descend almost by its own weight. 
The Tembukis and the Amakosas dig the ground w^ith a 
little wooden spade, which is very inconvenient. The na- 
tives have sufficiently observed the nature of the soil, to 
know how to choose that which is most suitable for dif- 
ferent objects of cultivation. The cultivated fields are 



164 THE BASUTOS. 

generally situated at some distance from the village, lest 
the cattle should escape from their enclosures during the 
night, and commit depredations. The use of manure is 
still unknown. When a piece of land is observed to be 
exhausted or grown old, as the natives say, they clear 
another piece by the side of the former, to which they 
return when it has grown young again. 

The ground is cleared some months before seed-time, 
to allow time for the tufts of grass to decay under the 
action of the sun and rain. 

Field labours begin in the month of September, 
and the approach of this important time is generally 
announced by great altercations. The native year is 
composed of twelve moons, which derive their names 
from natural phenomena or from special occupations. 
Each moon is registered, with the most scrupulous 
exactness, as soon as it appears; but, notwithstanding 
the shrewdness of the old men and the good memory 
of the young ones, these moons are always out of 
order, and, when it is least expected, some phenome- 
non which ought to appear in September is not seen till 
October. 

The reckoners are taken to task: certain of the 
truth of their statements, they exclaim in their turn. 
Some minds of greater penetration assert that there 
is a moon without a name. After endless debates the 
moons are left to get out of order as they please ; and 
recourse is had to the phenomena of the atmosphere 
and the state of vegetation to know w^hen to put the 
mattock in the ground. Intelligent chiefs rectify the 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 



165 



calendar at the summer solstice^ which they call the 
summer-house of the sun.* 

The sorgho (holms sorghum) is to the natives of 
South Africa what wheat is to us. They consume an 
immense quantity of it in various forms; sometimes 
cooked in its natural state> like rice — sometimes ground, 
and made into a kind of coarse pudding. Two sorts of 
beer are also made — one very refreshing, the other 
strong and intoxicating. 

The sorgho, with regard to its dimensions and the 
appearance of its stalk and leaves, is something between 
millet and maize. When the plant reaches maturity it 
has an ear in the form of a pyramidal cluster. This 

* We will give here the names of the moons, following the 
order which is generally adopted : — 



Signification. 

Pasturage. — The grass springs up in 
the fields. 

Kind of iris, which grows at this time. 

Fawn of the gnu. — -This is the season 
when the female gnu produces her 
young. 

Kind of cricket, which makes a good 
deal of noise at this time. 

Coverer {moon of the). — The wheat 
begins to come into ear, and 
huts are erected for the shelter 
of those whose business it is to 
attend to the preservation of the 
products. 

Ear of corn. 

Perfect grain. 



English 

Name. 


Sesuto 

Name. 


September. 


Loetse. 


October. 
November. 


Mpalana. 
Pulunguana. 


December. 


Tsitoe. 


January. 


Perekong. 



February. 
March. 



Tlakola. 
Tlakobela. 



166 



THE BASUTOS. 



vegetable requires a fertile soil : it fears cold and wet 
ground. It is extremely productive, a single root 
having three or four stalks, each of which bears an 
ear composed of at least two thousand grains, six times 
as large as ordinary millet. It is a production that 
requires much care. As soon as the young plants 
make their appearance the ground must be cleared, 
weeded, and dug up round the roots. When the ear 
begins to ripen swarms of wood-pigeons, turtle-doves, 
and other small birds, set to work daily upon the 
wheat, and would soon do immense mischief if they 
were not prevented. The natives heap up mounds of 
earth on the borders of their fields, and from the top 
of these hillocks they shout, gesticulate, clap their 



English 

Name. 


Sesuto 

Name. 


April. 


Mesa. 


May. 


Motseanong. 


June. 

July. 


Pupchane. 
Pupu. 



August. Pato. 



Signification. 

To light. — Fires are now kindled, 
on account of the freshness of 
the mornings and evenings. 
Warbling of birds, — It is cold ; 
the little birds warble through 
the valleys in search of food and 
shelter. 

Com salad (a kind of). 

Name of the same plant, but with- 
out the termination pchane, which 
is a diminutive, because the plant 
is now found fully developed. 

Hidden. — The pasturage of the last 
season is so dry that the cattle re- 
fuse to eat it ; the fresh grass is 
still too short. The cows have no 
milk, or hide it, as the natives say. 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 167 

hands, and crack whips. They have a little relaxation 
during the hottest hours of the day. The winged 
marauders then retire to enjoy the shade, and allow 
the poor labourer to go and lie down in his hut, and 
eat a few ears of maize at his ease. Towards evening 
the uproar recommences, and cries are heard on all 
sides of " Hube! hube! hube /" (Red! red!) the latter 
exclamation being especially addressed to certain finches 
of very brilliant plumage, and gifted with an unbounded 
appetite. 

When the sorgho has reached maturity a threshing- 
floor, perfectly round in shape, is prepared in the midst 
of the fields, from fifteen to twenty feet in diameter. 
The women, after having threshed the ears, winnow 
the grain by means of baskets, which they raise as high 
as their arms permit, and move slightly backwards and 
forwards in order to make the grain fall gradually, the 
wind blowing away the chaff. 

The Basutos preserve their sorgho in large straw 
baskets, in the shape of a dome, the texture of which is 
impervious to the rain. The Caffres have recourse to 
pits, a method of preservation the knowledge of w^hich 
must have come to them from ancient Mauritania. 
They make deep excavations in the enclosures where 
their cattle are penned. The walls of these pits are 
carefully plastered. The opening, which is only large 
enough to admit a man, is even w T ith the ground. 
When the subterranean granary is filled, the opening 
is hermetically sealed, and the whole is covered with a 
thick coat of dung and earth. If these depots happen 



168 THE BASUTOS. 

to be shut up for a long time, great precaution is 
required in opening them : persons have been known 
to be instantly suffocated by the gas which is there 
generated. If left there too long the grain acquires 
a musty flavour, which it does not lose even when 
cooked. 

A plant very much resembling the sorgho is always 
found by its side, It is the imfe or intse, a kind of 
sweet reed, of which the natives are passionately fond. 
They consume enormous quantities of it; and I have 
always observed that they look remarkably healthy at 
the season when they feast upon it. When the pulp 
of this vegetable is chewed, a sweet and slightly-acidu- 
lated juice is pressed out, which is both refreshing and 
nourishing. 

According to the natives, maize is a plant of recent 
introduction. Probably they received it from the coasts 
of Mozambique and from Cape Colony at the same time. 
Certain tribes of the interior do not yet cultivate it. 
I once sent a few handfuls of this grain to a chief who 
resided not far from the tropics. He could not under- 
stand how a stranger could take any interest in in- 
creasing the resources of a tribe he had never seen; 
and my maize, suspected of witchcraft, was igno- 
miniously thrown away. This plant thrives to per- 
fection in South Africa. It attains to a size which it 
very seldom reaches in the warmest parts of France 
or Italy. The natives gather the ears before they 
are perfectly ripe, and eat them boiled or roasted. 
This method of preparing it is at first repugnant to 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 169 

Europeans, but they soon acquire a taste for it, and 
adopt it themselves. That portion of the harvest which 
reaches maturity seldom undergoes the process of grind- 
ing. The indigestible pellicle of the grain is removed 
by pounding it in a wooden mortar, and then it is 
cooked in the same manner as rice, and furnishes a 
wholesome and agreeable food. 

Some tribes have recently adopted the culture of 
our cereals, especially that of wheat. The corn which 
is brought from the country of the Basutos to the 
markets of the colony is remarkable for its extreme 
purity. Next to these larger productions may be cited 
several varieties of melons and pumpkins, w r hich are 
delicious in taste; a kind of black bean, which is not 
to be recommended ; tobacco ; and, in some districts, 
the ground-nut or arachide, a kind of oleaginous bean, 
which buries its pods in the ground in order to ripen 
them. 

The trade which the natives carry on among them- 
selves is not worthy to be enumerated as one of their 
means of existence. It is as yet a very small matter. 
This is occasioned more by the absence of objects of 
exchange of any real importance than by a want of 
taste for this kind of occupation. The Basutos convey 
to the tribes of Natal otter-skins, panther-skins, ostrich- 
feathers, and w 7 ings of cranes — objects destined to serve 
as ornaments to the Zulu warriors. They receive in 
exchange cattle, hoes, blades of assagais, necklaces, 
and copper rings. The Bechuanas of the north apply 
themselves particularly to the preparation of furs. The 



170 THE BASUTOS. 

Balalas, a very poor horde, subsisting exclusively by 
the chase in the desert of Kalahari, furnish them with 
a large quantity of skins of the jackal, the squirrel, 
the lynx, and the wild cat. The tribes living nearest 
the tropics seek to enrich themselves by the sale of 
ivory and ostrich-feathers; but they find serious ob- 
stacles in the monopoly practised by the chiefs, and the 
prodigious activity of hunters from the colony. It is 
with white men that the natives transact the most profit- 
able business. In this respect the Basutos are particu- 
larly favoured by the fertility of their country. Their 
corn finds a ready sale at all the markets; and if the 
means of transporting it can be facilitated, it will be- 
come an important branch of commerce. The English 
annually procure, by means of exchange which is very 
advantageous to themselves, thousands of oxen, wdiich 
they sell again to the colonists and the butchers of the 
Cape. 

The first founder of an empire mentioned in his- 
tory was a mighty hunter. At the present day the 
chiefs of South Africa still find, in their frequent ex- 
cursions against the deer, an element of power which 
they are careful not to neglect. The days on which 
they set out are welcomed with enthusiasm by the less 
affluent part of the population. After having partaken 
of milk food and insipid mixtures of flour, they go to 
feast on succulent meats, in which they indulge to their 
hearts' content. The most animated discussions arise 
as to the merits of certain morsels renowned for their 
delicacy. And then, the charms of the bivouac! Those 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 171 

delightful hours spent among comrades, each striving 
to outdo the other, in relating his acts of prowess, 
round a gigantic fire, the flames mounting higher and 
higher as large pieces of meat are thrown upon them ! 
What matters it if the lions, astonished at the invasion 
of their domains, send forth roars loud enough to be 
heard by their uproarious rivals ! They laugh at these 
pretended kings of the desert. It is time they should 
fast in their turn, and content themselves with the 
odour of the meat, esteeming themselves fortunate if, 
on the morrow, they do not share the fate of the timid 
antelope. 

Perhaps superstition, resting upon the traditional 
souvenir of the first origin of these states, has sanctioned 
these general slaughters, by attributing to them extraor- 
dinary effects. In times of great drought, the Bechuanas 
ask with anxiety when their sovereign is going to hunt, 
not having the slightest doubt that Nature, attentive to 
the signal, will resume her ordinary course. 

These expeditions are generally preceded by cere- 
monies intended to ensure their success. The diviners 
must declare if the moment is propitious, and in what 
direction the game will be found in the greatest abun- 
dance. The hunters inoculate themselves in the right 
hand and the legs with specifics, intended to give them 
a sure aim, and the lightness of the gazelles, which are 
the objects of their pursuit. 

When the preparations are finished the chief points 
out to his vassals the place of rendezvous. The latter 
send their subordinates to beat the country, in order to 



172 THE BASUTOS. 

enclose imperceptibly a great number of antelopes ; then 
the different companies, moving towards a common 
centre, impel gently before them gnus, quaggas, caamas, 
gazelles, in great astonishment at finding themselves all 
mixed together in a state of confusion. The different 
troops draw nearer and nearer to each other, till at 
length they meet. The fatal circle which encloses the 
wretched victims grows smaller and smaller ; those who 
have beaten up the game see the spot where their chief 
awaits them. All at once the signal is given ; a general 
rush ensues, and the slaughter commences. 

This barbarous sport often costs dearly enough. 
Gnus, in a state of fury, rush with their heads bent 
downwards upon their assailants, and with their sharp 
horns force their way through the thickest ranks. Even 
the most inoffensive deer become formidable, such are 
their desperate springs. I knew a chief, renowned for 
his bravery, who, in an encounter of this kind, was 
knocked over by an antelope (spring-bok), and was 
obliged to be carried from the battle-field, very little 
disposed to recommence the sport. 

It is the custom for each one to appropriate to him- 
self the game he has killed, but they do homage to the 
chief with the first victim ; a quarter of each also belongs 
to him. His sons present him with the heads, as the 
symbol of his dignity. When an animal has been 
wounded by two or three hunters, it belongs by right to 
him who struck the first blow. After the cutting-up is 
over, they hasten to place the meat upon the draught- 
oxen, which are driven back to the village by men too 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 173 

advanced in years to take part in the chase. The whole 
village is thrown into confusion by their arrival. The 
women and children shout for joy, clap their hands, and 
are eager to learn the events of the day. 

These great occasions are not frequent enough to 
satisfy all the lovers of game. Private parties are 
arranged almost every day, which require more patience 
and skill. Those of the natives who are able to procure 
horses and carts have conveniences for hunting, which 
were unknown to their fathers. They station themselves 
in those quarters where the game is most abundant ; 
during the day they pursue the elks and gnus; and at 
night, they watch near the pools where the antelopes 
come to quench their thirst. In this manner they pro- 
cure a quantity of skins and dried meat, which they take 
back to their families. If they have extended their ex- 
cursion far enough, no danger would deter them from 
robbing the elephant of his tusks, the ostrich of her 
elegant plumes, or the rhinoceros of his formidable horn. 

Those who hunt animals for their fur go alone, or, at 
most, by twos or threes. They generally surprise the 
jackalls in their dens, stop up the outlets of their subter- 
raneous passages, and construct a countermine, which 
leads them to the cunning quadruped. If he seeks to 
escape at the moment they are about to seize him, he is 
immediately laid hold of by some dogs, that have long 
been on the watch. The hunter, after having carefully 
stripped off the skin of his victim, does not disdain the 
tough and insipid flesh. 

The natives, who live upon the immediate border of 



174 THE BASUTOS. 

the desert, depend for their supply of provision upon 
deep pits, which they make along the streams of water. 
A thin layer of earth, supported by a few slender 
branches, hides from the thirsty antelope the pit which 
is about to open under his feet. 

These private hunts have great attractions for adven- 
turous dispositions, and there is no end to the events of a 
dramatic nature, by which they are often accompanied. 
I will not invite the reader to enter upon this subject, for 
we should find it really interminable. We will content 
ourselves with two little incidents, serving to show that in 
Africa, as elsewhere, one may by the help of God come 
out safe and sound from the most dangerous positions. 

One of our Missionaries, an excellent marksman, 
while on a journey, had one day gone considerably in 
advance of his vehicle, in the hope of getting a good 
shot. He was not disappointed; a magnificent quagga 
was soon brought down. The day was scorching; but 
the victim was lying near a delightful grove of trees. 
Our friend was on the point of stretching himself at his 
ease, in the shade of some venerable mimosas, intending 
to rest there until his carriage came up, when a shaggy 
and enormous head appeared through the thicket, at a 
distance of two or three paces. This head turned first 
towards the quagga, then to the dismayed hunter. It 
was bent down for an instant, and then raised again 
higher than before. The lion (for it was one) proceeded 
methodically, like an intelligent animal as he was. His 
ideas, at first rather confused — as they always are after 
a profound siesta — began to get clearer. It was evi- 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 175 

dent he would not have to hunt far that day ! Should 
he devour the living biped or the dead quadruped? 
This was the important question he asked himself; and 
in order to decide the better, he had quitted his leafy 
couch, and seated himself gravely. His position taken, 
he again looked from one to the other. His gaze at 
length seemed to rest longer and more frequently upon 
the victim already prepared. " King of the desert, 
will you be satisfied with my game?" the hunter, 
more dead than alive, was on the point of exclaiming. 
If he did not say it, he thought it, and ventured to 
make a slight movement of retreat by way of trial. 
The lion's eyes assumed a most benevolent expression. 
He rose ; and took a step in a direction, which left no 
doubt as to the generosity of his intentions. The treaty 
was concluded. They separated as friends. 

A servant of mine, a great amateur of rhinoceros's 
flesh, had the misfortune to attack one of the toughest 
hides that had ever been seen in the country. Jantje, 
having that day more appetite than prudence, had en- 
camped himself bravely before the fierce animal in the 
open field. The shot was fired, and the ball inflicted 
an insignificant scratch. The rhinoceros raised his 
head; turned his small eyes, flashing with rage, upon 
his puny assailant, and set off in hot pursuit after him. 
The man was one of those to whom fear gives legs, 
instead of taking them away. He flung down his 
weapon, and bounded along the plain like a stag, di- 
recting his steps towards a solitary tree which he per- 
ceived at some distance. But he soon heard loud and 



176 THE BASUT0S. 

angry grunts behind him, and tossed back his hat to 
amuse the enemy for an instant. This stratagem gained 
the poor fellow a few seconds. He made a last effort; 
reached the tree; made a spring towards a horizontal 
branch ; managed to seize it ; raised himself as much as 
possible, and felt the rhinoceros pass between his legs, 
without doing him any harm. 

I cannot conclude this subject without saying a word 
about the natural ally of the hunter in every country. 
The natives affirm that they have had dogs from time 
immemorial ; but, alas ! ages of fidelity have not yet 
gained for the canine race the gratitude of their black 
proprietors ! The poor creatures do not lack praises. 
Every one boasts of the agility, the courage of his 
shaggy favourite. Nowhere, to judge by the disputes 
occasioned by these animals, is the principle more uni- 
versally established, te Love me, love my dog!" But 
it is understood that every good hound should be con- 
tent with panegyric. The supply of food is left entirely 
to his own industry: thus he becomes, necessarily, 
a thief by profession, and the most unclean of all 
creatures. Nothing is thrown to him but the hardest 
and driest of bones ; a shoulder-blade, or a shin-bone 
from which the marrow has been extracted. If the 
dogs are treated in this mean manner their number 
ought, at least, to be diminished; but this is not the 
case. The smallest hamlet is infested with dogs of all 
sizes and colours. The approach of a stranger is the 
signal for a frightful uproar. One yelps, another 
growls, a third howls. Too weak to bark in a proper 



MEANS OF EXISTENCE. 177 

and natural way, they give vent at random to the most 
discordant cries. We will add, for the reader's con- 
solation, that for some years their condition has been 
improving. The poor wretches will have to congratu- 
late themselves that light has found its way to the 
huts they defend. 

Bernardin de Saint-Pierre observes, that a people 
who eat their dogs cannot be far from cannibalism. 
He might be said to have borrowed this idea from the 
Basutos, whom I have often heard repeat, that " to 
eat a dog and a man is one and the same thing." It 
is a fact, that the anthropophagi of the Malutis, before 
feasting on human flesh, devoured all their dogs. 
These abominable men afterwards boasted, in a song 
which was intended to strike the hearers with terror, 
that they ate the brains of dogs and of children. 

The word incha (dog) has two meanings, diametri- 
cally opposed to one another in the metaphorical lan- 
guage of these tribes. To call a man " a dog" would be 
the most unpardonable insult ; but a chief will say of 
one of his subordinates, " That man is my dog ! " and 
the appellation will be received with a smile of assent 
by the person on whom it is bestowed. In the first 
case, the idea is connected with the gluttony and im- 
pudence of the animal; in the second, with the rela- 
tions of subordination and fidelity. cc Receive me: I 
will be thy dog ; I will bark for thee ;" is a technical 
phrase, which simply means, " I will undertake to de- 
fend you, in return for the services you render me." 
Thus, in the Old Testament, the unfaithful prophets 

N 



178 THE BASUTOS. 

are called dumb dogs ; and the Lord commands Ezekiel 
to cry and hoivl, to warn His people of the approach 
of the sword. 

One more remark and I conclude this chapter, 
which is already too long. It is singular enough that 
the natives of South Africa should have the same 
superstitious horror of certain nocturnal howlings of 
the dog which persons in Europe, who are infinitely 
more enlightened, cannot get rid of. It is there as it 
is with us, these lugubrious sounds announce some 
calamity near at hand. 



179 



CHAPTER XL 

SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 

The father, the eldest son, and, in some tribes, the 
maternal uncle, govern and protect the family. The 
authority of the father is acknowledged as supreme as 
long as he is in his vigour, but weakens as he advances 
in age ; and, at his death, devolves entirely upon the 
eldest son. The latter, even during his father's life- 
time, enjoys many advantages: he bears the title of 
son-lord, while the younger ones are called son-servants. 

The father dares do nothing of any importance 
without consulting him, and asking his consent. It is 
this son who generally acts as intermediate agent be- 
tween the other children and the chief of the family. 
He divides the inheritance as he will, and the younger 
members have nothing but what he chooses to leave 
for them. 

These prerogatives of the eldest son often create 
sad rivality between him and his father. If the latter 
is a polygamist, the first-born of the different wives 
have few rights over the other children born of the 
same mother as themselves: they are all under the 
authority of the eldest son of the first or legitimate wife. 



180 THE BASUTOS. 

This son seldom resides with his father. He has a 
separate establishment of his own. 

When his mother is advanced in years, she gene- 
rally retires to live with him, especially if her husband 
is a polygamist. The right of primogeniture involves 
great responsibility. If any accident happens to the 
younger children, or if they conduct themselves badly, 
the father lays the blame on the eldest son, and makes 
him accountable for the faults of his brothers. Thus 
Reuben, in the plains of Dothan, felt himself responsible 
for the life of Joseph, and was troubled at the thought 
of the disagreeable position in which he was placed by 
the disappearance of the lad. When we consider the 
matter from this point of view, we can understand why 
Reuben consented to the expedient of the bloody coat. 
It was very probably he who suggested it, to shelter 
himself from blame. If he had really been sorry for 
his brother, he would have revealed everything to his 
father, and set the unhappy old man on the track of the 
Ishmaelites. If Jacob had asserted his rights he might 
have disinherited him, and even deprived him of what 
he already possessed. We afterwards find Judah, to 
whom the birthright was about to be transferred, saying 
to Jacob, " Send Benjamin with me, and we will arise 
and go. I will be surety for him ; of my hand shalt thou 
require him. If I bring him not to thee, then let me 
bear the blame for ever." Our ideas hardly allow us 
to take these words literally, but the Bechuanas have 
no difficulty in understanding them. Among the Ba- 
sutos, the eldest brother of the mother (malume), also 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 181 

enjoys special rights over the children. He is under- 
stood to replace the mother, whose sex keeps her in a 
state of dependence. This is a counterbalance to the 
authority of the father and the eldest son ; but it often 
preponderates to excess, especially in polygamist fami- 
lies, in which great rivality generally reigns, and where 
the children have no strong affection for their father. 
It is the special duty of this godfather in common to 
the whole family to protect the child, and to purify it 
by means of sacrifices. When the right of circum- 
cision is performed, he makes his ward a present of a 
javelin and an heifer: he also defrays in part his mar- 
riage expenses. In return for all this, he is entitled to 
a share of the spoil taken by his nephews in war, of the 
game they kill, and of the cattle that comes into the 
possession of the family at the settlement of his nieces. 
It often happens that these uncles fill the office of prime 
minister and regent at the court of the chiefs. # 

If we may judge by the great ascendancy Joab had 
acquired over David, we should be inclined to believe 
that something similar existed among the Hebrews. 

Marriages are contracted in the same manner as 
among the Etruscans, the ancient Romans, and the 

* According to Tacitus, the maternal uncle was also entitled 
to important rights among the Germanic tribes : " Sororum filiis 
idem apud avunculum, qui apud patrem, honor. Quidam sanc- 
tiorem archioremque hunc nexum sanguinis arbitrantur." — Be 
Germanid, cap. xx. 

The uncle presides at the funeral of his nephews. It would 
appear from Amos, vi. 10, that the same custom prevailed among 
the Hebrews. 



182 THE BASUTOS. 

Arabs, the parents of the young man paying a certain 
value to those of the girl. This value is called in 
Bechuana Boliari, a word closely resembling the Hebrew 
word Mohar, which has the same signification. The 
price varies according to the tribes. With some it is 
not more than five or six head of cattle; among the 
Basutos it amounts to twenty-five and thirty. 

The transaction is made in public, and they are 
careful to have as many witnesses as possible when the 
dowry is paid. This custom reduces the women to a 
state bordering on slavery. Michelet says, that among 
the ancient Romans the wife was the sister of her hus- 
band's children. The position of a married woman 
among the South African tribes could not be better 
described. The Mosuto, in speaking of himself and his 
family, invariably says, " I and my children ; " and it 
is understood that the wife is reckoned among the 
latter. The natives repel with indignation the epithet of 
purchase, which we often apply to their mode of mar- 
riage. It is none the less true that this custom opens 
the way to cupidity, and prevents the consultation of 
any personal opinion and feeling on the part of the 
young maiden. It places the chiefs and the rich men 
above all rivality, as the highest bidder is pretty sure to 
have the choice of those possessing the greatest personal 
attractions. It introduces among the poorer classes the 
pernicious habit of having recourse to relations, friends, 
or even to the chief, for a part of the cattle they must 
give in exchange. This aid is generally granted without 
hesitation, but on the condition that the advance shall be 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 183 

repaid, either at the marriage of the sister of the young 
husband, or at that of one of his children. In this 
manner a sort of mortgage is established upon the 
daughters, which destroys their liberty and the repose 
of their families. Notwithstanding all these disadvan- 
tages, it cannot be denied that marriage by purchase, 
contracted in the presence of witnesses, and guaranteed 
by the united interests of several parties, has been an 
invaluable institution for these barbarous people, who, 
from the absence of any settled principles of morality, 
might have fallen into a state of brutal degradation. 
From the time that a woman legally belonged to a man 
for his whole life-time the family tie was formed. 

The parents are incited to vigilance from the fear 0t 
being obliged to accept a disadvantageous bargain in 
consequence of the misconduct of their daughters. In- 
deed it is probable that, but for this custom, the children 
would not be cared for as they are ; in times of war and 
famine, motives of interest are doubtless greatly instru- 
mental in their preservation. 

It is a curious coincidence, that, at the rate of remu- 
neration awarded to the young shepherds in the South 
of Africa, a Mosuto, in order to acquire means sufficient 
to procure him a wife, would be obliged to serve for the 
same number of years as Jacob did to the father of 
Rachel and Leah. 

The Bechuanas would have blamed Laban for de- 
ducting nothing from the price on account of the rela- 
tionship. According to their ideas, he, as uncle, ought 
to have furnished a part of the marriage-portion he 



184 THE BASUTOS. 

exacted as father ; at least, he ought to have returned to 
his nephew the value of one year's labour. 

There is a certain tribe who, from another motive, 
would have laid upon him this obligation. Among the 
Baperis, the amount of the marriage-portion, of whatever 
it may be composed, ought never to exceed the number 
seven, that being considered as a sacred number. 

The custom which forbade the marriage of Rachel 
before Leah still exists in full force among the Be- 
chuanas. 

Cases of divorce are very frequent where the price of 
the wife is of small value. Among the Basutos, where 
it is of considerable amount, the dissolution of marriage 
is attended with much difficulty. Husbands who send 
back their wives are not disposed to lose the cattle with 
which they were purchased. The relations of the wife, 
on their side, are seldom willing to restore the pro- 
perty thus acquired, and which, perhaps, is no longer 
in their possession. They are authorised by law to 
refuse all restitution when the marriage has been pro- 
ductive, as the children are supposed to have acquitted 
the debt. 

Sterility is the only cause of divorce which is not 
subject to litigation. If the husband is too . poor to 
procure a second wife, no consideration would prevent 
his setting aside an arrangement which he would con- 
sider as annulled in fact. If he is in affluent circum- 
stances, and attached to his first wife, she generally 
undertakes herself to procure a second partner for her 
husband, to whom she will sacrifice her most sacred 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 185 

rights, in the hope of obtaining by another the child 
which nature denies to herself. In this manner Sarah 
gave Hagar to Abraham. 

This arrangement, so contrary to our customs and 
to the spirit of the Gospel, appears quite natural to the 
African tribes. I shall never forget the lamentations of 
one of my converts who had just lost her only son, of 
fifteen years of age. " Oh, my child !" she said, u thou 
art dead, and I am dead with thee ! But thy sorrows 
have ceased, and mine are only beginning. What shall 
I do? What will become of me? What have I to 
expect, poor, dried-up, barren plant that I am? It is 
in vain to hope that I can bear a second son ! I shall 
be put aside, like a useless thing, or obliged to consent 
to means that my God has forbidden !" I stopped her, 
and tried to calm her, entreating her to respect the 
sorrow of her husband, who was present, and who also 
belonged to the church. But a few weeks later I dis- 
covered that the poor woman was not mistaken. Her 
husband, who, during twelve years, had faithfully ful- 
filled the duties of a Christian, suffered, without flinch- 
ing, persecutions of various kinds, and sacrificed a great 
quantity of cattle, which he might have obtained by 
conforming to certain heathen customs, could not resign 
himself to die without leaving a son behind him. All 
our reasonings, all our remonstrances, appeared to fall 
to the ground before this idea : " God himself has an- 
nulled my marriage by rendering it useless." But God, 
against whom he had offended, covered him with con- 
fusion ; for hardly had the choice of a young concubine 



186 THE BASUTOS. 

been made, when Sarah (such was the name of the 
legitimate wife) gave birth to a child. 

The laws of Manou — very strict upon the point of 
conjugal fidelity, but made for people under the domi- 
nion of the same instincts — -remedied the difficulty, by 
offering to sterility palliatives consecrated by religion. 
It is only He who is able to re\f ard the faith of His 
children, who can place their happiness on the im- 
mutable foundation of absolute submission to His holy 
and gracious will. 

Although most of the natives are polygamists, there 
are few among them who defend this habit. When 
they are questioned on the matter they have an inex- 
haustible stock of anecdotes, serving to illustrate the 
difficult position of a man beset with the intrigues and 
the malice of his wives^ whose daily study it is to make 
him atone for the unpleasantness of their situation. 
Individuals are found here and there, who, from natural 
moderation, and a cordial attachment to their first wife, 
have escaped the contagion of example. These mono- 
gamists are generally much esteemed, and regarded by 
their fellow-citizens as models of virtue. 

The marriage of all the wives is contracted in a 
similar manner ; but a very marked distinction exists 
between the first and those who succeed her. The 
choice of the great wife (as she is always called) is 
generally made by the father, and is an event in which 
all the relations are interested. The others, who are 
designated by the name of serete (heels), because they 
must on all occasions hold an inferior position to the 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 187 

mistress of the house, are articles of luxury, to which 
the parents are not obliged to contribute. These wives 
of a second order are exactly what Bilhah and Zilpah 
were to Jacob. In the reigning families, only the 
children of the great wife have the right of succeeding 
their father. The chief of the Basutos can hardly keep 
an account of the children that are born to him; still, 
when asked by foreigners how many he has, he answers 
€S Five," only alluding to those of his first wife. He 
says sometimes that he is a widower, which means that 
he has lost his real wife, and has not raised one of his 
sixty concubines to the rank she occupied. She has 
been dead for more than twenty years, and her dwelling 
is kept in perfect order, and still bears her name. 

The chief would have thought he was offering an 
insult to the memory of the deceased by introducing 
another partner to this retreat, where the sons of Mamo- 
hato take up their abode when they visit their native 
village. In like manner antiquity shows us Isaac and 
Rebekah taking possession of Sarah's tent, while the pa- 
triarch set up another for Keturah. In the midst of 
great abuses, traits of delicacy are often found among 
these people which are really surprising. 

The inheritance of the father belongs by right to the 
sons of the first wife ; and these, with the eldest at their 
head, give what they choose to the other offspring of 
their father. Here, again, the similarity is striking: 
we are told in Genesis that " Abraham gave all he 
had to Isaac, and made presents to the sons of his 
concubines." 



188 THE BASUTOS. 

The idea of that which is improper and anomalous 
in polygamy is so inherent in every human conscience, 
that many natives dread dying near a wife of second 
order; this is called, in the language of the Basutos, 
" making a bad death." 

The wives of the first rank consider their rights so 
firmly established, that, in certain cases, they themselves 
encourage their husbands to become polygamists. They 
are prompted by motives of interest and idleness, as they 
intend to put off upon others the most laborious of their 
occupations. 

In fact, sensuality is far from being the only motive, 
or even the principal one, which leads the natives into 
this evil way. Servants do not exist among them ; the 
wives are nothing better than servants, although they do 
not bear the name. Next to them, the real servant, the 
only one to be counted upon, is the child. # In such a 
state of things, the more wives a man possesses, the 
more hands he has at his disposal, and the more he 
may hope to see the number of these hands increase. 
This reason explains why the chiefs, who have visitors 
in abundance, and who owe hospitality to every one, 
have so many wives, and display them as a proof of 
their opulence. It must not be imagined that these 
concubines are shut up in a harem, as they are in the 
East. Each of them has her domicile, and her fields, 
and must always be in readiness to provide for the 

* In the language of the Bechuanas, the word motlanka, like 
the vats of the Greeks and the puer of the Romans, signifies at 
the same time boy and servant. 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 189 

guests her husband assigns her. They till the ground 
with their own hands, go themselves to draw water, 
provide themselves with fuel, and, when their lord un- 
dertakes any labour of importance, they supply the 
place of workmen. It is no uncommon occurrence to 
see them walking in a file, carrying on their heads bas- 
kets full of earth, or bundles of wood and straw. In the 
event of a move, they have to transport in the same 
manner all the utensils and clothing of the family. 

Polygamy among these tribes is attended by the 
same fatal consequences which everywhere follow in its 
train. It makes man a tyrant, and women and child- 
ren rivals, intent upon supplanting each other, and 
renders filial love extremely rare. But it is more espe- 
cially in a moral point of view that its results in that 
country are of a most afflicting nature. The women 
being under no superintendence, and finding themselves 
in a position tending more to rouse the passions than to 
satisfy them, have in general no respect for the bond 
which unites them to the man whose name they bear. 
The interest which is at the bottom of the contract, and 
which is, as we have seen, a safeguard to the unmarried 
females, induces the husband to shut his eyes to the de- 
bauchery which results in the rapid increase of the 
family. If the paternity is doubtful, the child belongs 
no less to the legal master of the wife.* The chiefs 
generally have among their numerous concubines some 
favourite wives, whom they watch over in a particular 

* It is the principle of the Bom an law, "Pater est quern 
nuptice demonstrant." 



190 THE BASUTOS. 

manner, and whom they attach to themselves by excep- 
tional favours. The public soon perceive these pre- 
ferences, and generally respect them. 

The death of the husband does not liberate the wife. 
She falls by law to one of the brothers or to the nearest 
relation of the deceased. There, the institution of the 
levirate is not subject to the wise restrictions made by 
Moses for the people of Israel. Although the children 
of this second union bear the name of the first husband, 
and are understood to belong to him and to inherit his 
possessions, while they have very small claim to the 
succession of their real father, the fact that the widow is 
compelled to remain in the family, although she has 
already born children to the deceased, proves that the 
purchase of which she was the object is the chief ob- 
stacle to her liberation. There are, nevertheless, some 
generous families who do not assert this right, but allow 
the widow to marry again as she pleases. Sometimes, 
also, when the parents see that their daughter has an 
unconquerable aversion to become the wife of her 
brother-in-law, they interfere, and modify or break the 
contract, by restoring either a part or the whole of the 
value they received at the marriage. These difficulties 
rarely occur when the widow has one or more sons who 
have reached a reasonable age. In this case, she con- 
tinues to live with them, and often enjoys more autho- 
rity and a greater degree of comfort than during her 
husband's lifetime. 

It is almost needless, after what has been said, to 
observe, that the woman cannot inherit anything. Never- 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 191 

theless, her claims pass on to her male children ; they 
have their share in the division of the property left by 
their maternal grandfather. 

The Bechuanas and the Caffres acknowledge and 
respect the same degrees of consanguinity as we do. 
They do not reckon relationship beyond the degree of 
second cousin. 

Marriages between brothers and sisters, uncles and 
nieces, nephews and aunts, are disapproved of. Those 
between cousins frequently take place, but there, are 
some tribes who condemn them as incestuous. 

The idea of marrying two, or even three sisters, does 
not appear to be repugnant to polygamists. 

After this general glance at the subject, the reader 
will perhaps like to have some more detailed information 
as to the domestic manners of the natives. We will do 
our best to satisfy him, by rapidly following the Mosuto 
through the different phases of his private life. 

The child is generally born in the midst of its 
mother's family. These people think that, at the critical 
season of maternal anguish, the woman should enjoy the 
immediate attentions of her own relations. The hut 
where this event takes place is pointed out to the public 
by a handful of reeds fastened up over the door. This 
symbol is sufficient to ensure to the family all the tran- 
quillity and consideration of which they stand in 
need. * 

Nearly two months elapse before the mother goes 

* It will be seen in another chapter that the reed is symbo- 
lical of the origin of humanity. 



192 THE BASUTOS. 

out with her new-born child. A little ceremony, inte- 
resting from its naweti, determines the moment when 
their seclusion should cease. The infant is carried into 
the court one fine evening, the moon is pointed out to 
him, and if he fixes his eyes upon it, it is concluded that 
he may make his appearance among men without incur- 
ring any danger. When the young mother is about to 
return to her husband, her parents offer- a sacrifice for 
her purification, and place the flesh of the victim upon a 
draught-ox to convey it to her abode. Of the skin they 
make a tari, a large kind of scarf, which serves to hold 
the child at the back of the mother till it is weaned. 
Nothing can seem happier than a little coloured child 
curled up in this covering, near the source whence it 
derives its nourishment. Its knows no fear, no want, 
no disagreeable sensations. While the mother devotes 
herself to the labours of the field or the household, it 
sleeps, or quietly enjoys the gentle rocking produced by 
her movements. It feels no inconvenience from the 
weather, always finding an equal degree of warmth in 
this living cradle. 

May it not have been this image which presented 
itself to the mind of Moses when he exclaimed, " Have I 
conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that 
thou shouldst say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom ?" 

With the exception of this interesting peculiarity, 
nothing can be less judicious than the manner in which 
the little children are treated. Their necks are loaded 
with immense necklaces of charms of all kinds. Every 
vestige of hair is shaved off their heads; and their skulls, 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 193 

as smooth as the hand, after being plastered over with a 
mixture of ochre and butter, are exposed for hours to 
the rays of a tropical sun. Although the mother may 
have an abundant supply of the child's natural aliment, 
it must swallow, whether it likes it or not, pap and beer 
-in such large quantities, that it is a matter of wonder 
how the digestive organs can bear it. As to the care 
these little creatures require in the indispositions to 
which they are subject, the natives understand nothing 
at all about it. The mortality among children of a 
tender age always appeared to me much greater in pro- 
portion to that of Europe. The robust health which the 
natives generally appear to enjoy, in contrast with the 
small number of weakly persons found among them, has 
been a matter of wonder and admiration ; but the reason 
of this is as simple as it is distressing — only the stronger 
portion of the population arrive at the age of maturity. 

The custom of giving to the child the name of ^ts 
grandfather, grandmother, or of some other respected 
relation, is as universal among the Bechuanas as it is 
with us. When the choice is not determined in this 
manner, the name is generally commemorative. Thus, 
a child born while his parents are travelling would be 
called Monaheng, In the Fields, or Ntutu, Baggage ; a 
chili who comes into the world during a time of afflic- 
tion would be called LiheUUj Tears; or TloJcotsi, Calamity. 
There are among the Basutos such names as the following: 
Ralichaba, Lefela, Moeti, Ntsenyi, Kunung, Lepuy, Cheu, 
Mafika; the literal translation of which would be, Abra- 
ham, Abel, Hagar, Balak, Edom, Jonas, Laban, Peter. 



194 THE BASUTOS. 

The child generally keeps the name it received at its 
birth up to the time of circumcision. After the adminis- 
tration of this rite, the young Mochuana chooses for 
himself a name in accordance with his tastes and his 
future prospects. After his first feat of arms, he will 
assume a title serving to perpetuate his bravery or his 
success. 

Thus, the chief of the Basutos, born in a time of civil 
dissension, was at first called Lepoko, Dispute; when he 
was circumcised he took the name of Tlaputle, the Busy, 
on account of his activity, and a decided tendency to 
take part in everything, and to direct everything him- 
self: at length, when his power was established, he 
received the name of Moshesh, the Shaver, because he 
had shaved the beards of all his rivals. 1 

Among the Bechuanas, the little boys wear no clothing 
at all up to the age of seven or eight years. Their play- 
fellows of the other sex wear a kind of apron, which is 
generally adorned with glass beads. 

Until the child begins to change its teeth it plays 
from morning till evening, and has nothing to do but to 
grow as fast as possible. We have noticed among these 
little idlers many of the games of our childhood: for in- 
stance, two little girls will seat themselves side by side 
in a very mysterious manner ; one of them picks up a 
stone, and passing it rapidly from one hand to the other, 

* It is in the same sense that the prophet Isaiah said : — 
" The Lord shall shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by the 
king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet : and it shall 
also consume the beard" (Isa. vii. 20). 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 195 

presents her two fists to her companion, that she may 
guess in which hand the pebble is. If the guesser is mis- 
taken, the other exclaims triumphantly : " Ua ya incha, 
Jcia ya khomo " (You eat the dog, I eat the beef) ; in the 
opposite case, she declares herself to be vanquished by 
saying: " Kia ya incha, ua ya Jchomo" (I eat the dog, you 
eat the beef) ; and she delivers the stone to her friend. 

Playing with bones, which they call heta, jumping, 
and at the same time passing a long cord under the feet, 
are favourite sports of the African children. Afterwards 
corne racing, w T restling, and sham fights. 

These latter exercises are more especially practised 
in the fields, where it is the duty of every little boy of 
eight years old to drive daily the sheep and goats of his 
father. These young shepherds contrive to pass their 
time as agreeably as possible. In spite of the orders 
continually given them to disperse themselves, so that 
the flocks may find abundant pasturage, they invariably 
end by getting together. There is always a chief of the 
band among them, who presides at the games and pre- 
vents quarreling. When they are tired of running 
about they sit down in the shadow of a rock, or upon 
the banks of a stream, and amuse themselves by making 
oxen of clay, or weaving garlands of flowers, with which 
they adorn their heads. The girls of the same age do 
not enjoy so much liberty. They go to the fields with 
their mothers, and while the latter dig up the ground, 
they pick up sticks, and make the fagot which will 
serve to cook the evening meal. Sometimes they are 
left at home to take care of a younger brother. 



196 THE BASUTOS. 

During the rainy days and the long winter even- 
ings, which they are obliged to pass in an obscure hut, 
the children generally have recourse to the complaisance 
of their grandmamma to amuse them. She gives them 
riddles, or tells them stories, in which they take great 
delight. Ghost-stories are not wanting in these noc- 
turnal conversations ; and there, as everywhere else, are 
listened to with passionate eagerness, though they make 
the auditors tremble from head to foot. I have known 
great boys who hardly dared to look up at the stars, 
because they imagined that the milky way was a 
monstrous collection of those transparent beings whose 
imaginary appearance is so much dreaded.* Some- 
times scenes of a really tragic nature succeed these 
factitious emotions. In this manner poor little Fele- 
koane, who now bears the name of Andrew in the 
Church of Thaba-Bosio, found himself, on one of those 
evenings we have just described, suddenly seized by 
a hyena, and dragged to the middle of the village. 
Sometimes a lion wanders round the hut; then every 
voice is hushed, and each one cowers down under his 
sheep-skin. When the roars grow more distant one 
ventures to lift up his head a little, and ask, in a stifled 
voice, if the door is well-fastened. In spite of these 
emotions, which are not experienced every day, the 
little African leads a life which he certainly would not 
exchange for that of our little street-boys. 

He is unacquainted with the inconvenience of a 

* The Basutos call the milky way, " the way of the gods." 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFEo 197 

ragged shoe, and never knows what it is to have his 
shoulder marked with a cutting piece of cord which 
answers the purpose of braces. When he sets out on 
a fine summer's morning, having partaken of a nice dish 
of curdled milk, his shoulders covered with the light and 
supple skin of an antelope, armed with a little club of 
olive wood and a javelin, he thinks himself the happiest 
of mortals. If he has not an assortment of playthings, 
perhaps he possesses a lamb or a kid, with which he 
spends many a delightful hour. The chief of the 
Basutos has often told me what pleasure he had, in his 
childhood, in taking care of a spotted kid that his father 
had given him. " I built it a little house," he said, 
" and I chose the tenderest grass for it ; but, oh ! it was 
so beautiful ! I hardly think there is another like it." 

I could not help smiling at this observation, and I 
blessed God for having everywhere surrounded man's 
earliest years with those sweet illusions which, in a 
great measure, constitute the happiness of childhood. 

This happy season is nowhere of shorter duration 
than in these countries. When the young people have 
scarcely attained their fourteenth year their parents 
begin to think of their marriage. This is an all-absorb- 
ing affair, and several months generally elapse between 
the preliminaries and the final conclusion of the con- 
tract. As we have already seen, the choice of the 
first wife generally rests with the father. It is he 
who goes to ask her hand for his son, and if his pro- 
posal is well received, an ox is killed, and partaken of 
in common, as a sign of mutual acquiescence. Soon 



198 THE BASUTOS. 

after this the kindred of the young man go and present 
the cattle necessary in order to obtain his bride. On 
that day the head of the family, arrayed in his finest 
mantle, invites his relations and his intimate friends to 
accompany him. The sister of the bridegroom leads off 
the procession. She holds in her hand a long white 
staff, a symbol of peace and concord, which she throws, 
without saying a word, at the door of the hut where 
her future sister-in-law resides. Meanwhile the rest 
of the party seat themselves in a group, at a respectful 
distance, and wait until their arrival is perceived. The 
father of the bride soon makes his appearance. He 
comes accompanied by his family, and seats himself a 
few steps from his guests. The latter then send the 
youngest of their party to bring forward the cattle 
which have been left not far off. The animals pass one 
after the other between the two groups; and if there 
happens to be one which does not give satisfaction, a 
shake of the head procures its immediate dismissal. 
At length the shepherd himself appears, driving the last 
ox. A pause ensues, during which the suitors make 
lengthy protestations of poverty, affirm that it has cost 
them considerable effort to procure so large a portion, 
and have recourse to all the most flattering expressions 
of their language to obtain a sign of satisfaction. They 
seldom succeed; for it is generally known that, not 
far from the spot where the business is being transacted, 
some head of cattle are kept in reserve. The parents 
of the bride do not fail, in their turn, to give vent to 
expressions of regret and surprise. They had expected 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 199 

more generosity; it is assuredly known what it costs 
to bring up a child, and how valuable are the services 
of a strong and laborious young person : they are not 
tired of her ; and, however poor an opinion they may 
have of themselves, still they feel that they are of too 
honourable extraction to have any doubt of a suitable 
match for their daughter. At a given signal the herds- 
man again departs, and a few more horned heads soon 
make their appearance. Then come a troop of women 
covered with rent mantles. This is the mother, coming 
with her friends, lamenting that her child is taken from 
her, and asking if they will not at least enable her to 
cast away the rags she wears, as they are depriving 
her of services of which she stands in the greatest 
need. Every one knows what this means ; and a fine 
ox, which was set apart for the purpose, and which 
bears the name of the ox of the nurse, is added to the 
others. This part of the ceremony over, the brothers 
of the bride jump up, shouting with joy, fetch a long 
plume of feathers, and dart off into the fields to collect 
their father's cattle. He selects a fat ox, sacrifices it 
to the tutelary deities and regales his guests, and the 
affair is concluded. 

Some months generally elapse before the bride leaves 
the paternal roof; and during this interval the young 
husband is busy preparing her a new mantle, and in 
procuring for her some earrings and necklaces of copper 
or glass beads. He pays her a visit from time to time, 
but without allowing himself to consider that she be- 
longs to him. There are still certain formalities to be 



200 THE BASUTOS. 

observed^ which the young ladies of that country would 
on no account dispense with on the part of their suitors. 
One fine morning a necklace falls into the court of the 
father-in-law, who immediately . understands that his 
daughter is sent for. The latter picks up the necklace, 
calls together the friends of her childhood, and begins 
slowly to follow the persons sent to conduct her to her 
new abode. She soon sits down with her companions, 
and refuses to advance a step. A second necklace is 
given her, and she resumes her course, but soon stops 
again. The same remedy gives her strength to pro- 
ceed. 

In this manner she manages, with a little skill, and 
by putting on the prettiest airs in the world, to obtain 
quite an assortment of trinkets. 

The demands of the fair travellers are sometimes 
so exorbitant, that, in order to make sure of them, one 
is obliged to run to the neighbours to borrow some 
additional ornaments. 

After the arrival, there is a new source of embar- 
rassment. The young strangers pretend to be delicate 
and squeamish. They scorn the food that is offered 
them. A sheep is brought; and if it appears to them 
of a proper size, they allow it to be prepared for them. 
Early the next morning the new mistress begins to clean 
the court, in which she is aided by two or three of her 
companions. The others go the fountain to draw water, 
and on their return find the door-way obstructed by the 
sweepers. A general confusion takes place; in which 
they push each other about, and make as much noise 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LITE. 201 

as possible, until a fresh present puts an end to the 
uproar. After this there is nothing to be done but to 
kill an ox, invite the neighbours, and feast and dance 
with them till the middle of the night. The young 
people carry on their frolics in the interior of a spacious 
hut, from which every fragile object has previously 
been removed. 

Among the Caffres of Natal, it is usual for the 
parents of the bride to make a present of three oxen to 
the family whose alliance they have accepted. One 
replaces the ornaments which the young wife wore in 
her childhood, and which now belong her sisters. This 
is the lady's pin-money. The second is offered to the 
manes of the bridegroom's ancestors, in order to obtain 
their consent to the union. The third finds a place 
among the herd which has furnished the marriage por- 
tion, and helps, in some measure, to fill up the void that 
has been made. The wife receives from her parents 
one or more hoes, a little flour, and a basket ; and this 
is all that she brings to the household stock. She gene- 
rally resides for the first year with her mother-in-law, 
and has plenty of time to make pots, and to prepare 
mats and other necessary articles of the same kind. 
Among the Batlapis and the Barolongs, it is her duty 
to construct the hut she will inhabit. The Basutos are 
more reasonable in their requirements : among them the 
husband assists in the erection of the dwelling;. In this 

CD 

tribe the young wife is not entitled to the privilege of 
looking her father-in-law in the face until she has 
presented him with a grandson. 



202 THE BASUTOS. 

Death is always announced by piercing and lugu- 
brious cries. The matrons of the place assemble near 
the hut where the tyrant has entered, and indulge in 
the most heartrending lamentations. "Yo! yo! yo! 
Alas! alas! my father, where art thou now? Why 
hast thou left us? What will become of us without 
thee? Who will defend us from our enemies? Who 
will supply us with food and clothing? Thou art 
gone ! Thou hast left us ! We remain behind in sorrow 
and bitterness! Yo! yo! yo! Alas! alas!" Such 
are generally the lamentations that are heard, with 
those variations required by the age and sex of the 
deceased. 

While the women are giving vent to these expres- 
sions of sorrow, the men set about the interment, which 
is performed as soon as possible. Before the body be- 
comes stiff they fix it, by means of cords, in a squatting 
position, the chin resting on the knees. A grave is 
dug, four feet in depth and three in diameter. The 
body is taken out through an opening, made for this 
occasion, opposite the door ; and, covered with a mantle, 
is placed in the same position at the bottom of the 
grave, the face turned towards the north-east, and the 
hands crossed upon the breast. It is usual to throw 
into the grave a little crown of couch-grass, a few grains 
of wheat, and some seeds of melon and pumpkin.* 

* The position of death, which resembles that of the child 
in the bosom of its mother ; grains of wheat, vegetables and 
grass, deposited near the corpse, would seem to be symbolical of 
resurrection. 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 203 

A flat stone is placed in the hole, immediately over 
the head, and the earth is then shovelled in. The chiefs 
and rich men are interred in the centre of their cattle- 
pens, their wives and children under the wall of the 
enclosure. Immediately afterwards, the cattle of the 
deceased are assembled over the grave ; the baskets of 
wheat are opened, and the contents are scattered along 
the road from the house of the deceased to the place 
where he reposes. The object of this offering is to 
appease any unfavourable feelings towards the living he 
may have carried with him. We will not refer again to 
the sacrifices common on these occasions. Among the 
tribes of the north, the wives and daughters are interred 
outside the town with the poor. The victims of famine 
receive no burial at all. Sometimes the weapons, and a 
part of the clothing of the deceased, are thrown into the 
common sewer; in case they are preserved, they are 
purified with the greatest care. The Caffres stand in 
such dread of the defilement arising from contact with a 
corpse, that they do not bury their dead, but hastily 
drag them away into those places frequented by wild 
beasts. 

The extreme precipitation with which interments are 
generally performed is owing to the horror caused by 
the presence of a corpse in the narrow dwellings, where 
there is hardly room to move. Horrible mistakes are 
sometimes occasioned by these hurried proceedings. 
Mamokole, a woman with whom I was well acquainted, 
and who still lives near the station where I resided, was 
buried alive. Fortunately, the grave not being deep, she 



204 THE BASUTOS. 

succeeded, by pressing her feet against the ground, in 
raising the stone which was over her head, and again 
appeared among the living. I have been assured by the 
natives that such instances frequently occur. I believe 
it often happens that the persons who have the care of 
the sick are the involuntary cause of the mistake. Igno- 
rant old women, overcome by superstitious fears, run 
away at the sight of convulsions or a fainting fit, crying, 
— " It is all over, he is dead ! " and without further 
examination the patient is smothered up in skins, and 
soon dies of suffocation. 

Visits of condolence are paid soon after the funeral 
is over. The relations and friends give vent to loud 
cries as they approach the house of mourning; then, 
seating themselves in silence, they wait till the sorrow of 
the bereaved allows them to relate the particulars of the 
loss they have sustained. These solemn pauses some- 
times last for hours, and no one seems astonished at their 
prolongation. 

Sometimes the mourners go out without uttering 
a word ; the visitors patiently await their return. So 
well do these people understand the respect due to 
sorrow, that no one would venture to ask a question. 
At the right moment, each one in his turn addresses 
a few words of consolation; these generally consist in 
protestations of regret and sympathy, accompanied by 
some of those ready-made phrases which are current all 
over the world: — a It is the way of all the earth" .... 
" To-day one, to-morrow another." . . . . " You have 
nothing to reproach yourself with." .... After this 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 205 

short intermission the lamentations are recommenced, 
the cries of the condolers are mingled with those of their 
bereaved friends, and each withdraws, repeating, ** Yo ! 
yo! yo! — Alas! alas! my brother!" 

The natives cut their hair as a token of mourning. 
They substitute little chains of iron for their necklaces 
of copper or glass beads. Widows and orphans wear a 
cord round the head. 

In their social relations, the Bechuanas display 
remarkable amiability of character. Seen at certain 
moments, especially when indulging in their dances, 
their exterior may be thought fierce and repulsive : at 
such times they are very ugly, and would seem to 
occupy a very low position in the social scale. Their 
persons, streaming with grease and perspiration, their 
hoarse and discordant voices, their contortions, resem- 
bling those of persons possessed, produce a feeling of 
disgust which it is impossible to describe. But all this 
is nothing more than a vulgar pastime. Let us wait a 
moment, and we shall see these men gravely put on 
their long fur mantles, seat themselves with smiling 
faces, and talk to each other in the kindest manner. 
Their conversation is usually very animated ; discussions 
are incessant, but rarely degenerate into serious disputes. 
This social intercourse, which constitutes one of their 
greatest pleasures, is characterised by great gaiety and 
good humour; nor are sallies of wit and satire wanting. 
Happening to pass near some young men, we heard one 
of them amusing himself at the expense of a favourite of 
the chief of the place. " See," said he, " there is the 



206 THE BASUTOS. 

little star which accompanies the moon." Another, in 
fits of laughter at the admiration excited by the sharp 
sounds drawn from a violin by a certain negro from the 
colony, exclaimed : " In the country where there are no 
birds, if a cow lows, they say she sings." During a 
council, at which some colonists were present, an aged 
Mosuto could not refrain from turning into ridicule the 
complacent manner in which these gentlemen stroked 
their long beards. He procured a goat's head, and fas- 
tening it to his neck, walked up and down in the midst 
of the assembly, repeating, from time to time, with a 
mischievous smile, " I also am a goat" They are 
equally ready in remarks of a polite and flattering 
nature when occasion requires. A prince's horse stum- 
bles and falls, people run to the spot, and while some 
are raising the dismounted horseman, one of the party, 
apparently occupied entirely with the horse, exclaims, 
— " What a stupid brute ! These creatures do not seem 
to know kings!" Even the chiefs will at times soften 
down, with kind speeches, the feelings that may be 
aroused by the exercise of their authority. " After all," 
said a chief to his assembled subjects, " we are but your 
servants ; men are born and die in the same manner, be 
they high or low ; if there are some who are entitled to 
obedience, they derive this right from their fellows, who 
will it thus for the welfare of all." 

The same kind feeling is observable in the behaviour 
of the natives, if any kind of food is brought to them 
while they are in each other's society ; however small the 
quantity may be, every one must have a taste : even the 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 207 

children are not forgotten. I have seen a piece of sugar, 
not larger than a walnut, applied to the lips of at least 
ten people before it finally disappeared. 

There exist among these tribes forms of politeness, 
and rules of etiquette, which may not be disregarded 
with impunity. If one interrupts another in speaking, 
it is proper to say first : " Permit me to smite you on 
the mouth." If one approves of what another says, it 
is customary to say, f • I rise for you." It is polite in 
conversation to supply any word required by the person 
speaking, in order to spare him the trouble of seeking it, 
and to show that one is listening with interest to what 
he is saying. A chief speaking to his subjects, calls 
them " His lords, his masters" In addressing a person 
older than one's self, one says, cc My father, my mother ;" 
to an equal, " My brother;" and to inferiors, "My 
children" A superior is saluted on the knee; if one is 
not in too great awe of him, the hand may be kissed ; 
a little more familiarity authorises a kiss upon the 
shoulder ; and equals embrace, as we do, on the cheeks. 
Politeness requires that, before helping one's guests, 
one should taste in their presence the dishes presented 
to them. The Mochuana who kills an ox must send 
the head and breast to his father, a leg to his eldest 
brother, a shoulder to his younger brothers, and the 
chine to his sisters. The head is symbolical of the 
dignity of the father of the family. The manner in 
which Joseph treated his brother Benjamin is better 
understood by the Africans than by ourselves. 

Politeness also requires that, when a gift is accepted, 



208 THE BASUTOS. 

however small the object may be, both hands should be 
extended to receive it. To turn the back to any one, to 
spit in his presence while he is eating, or to enter a 
house armed, are all affronts that are sometimes deeply 
resented. A birth, death, or any other family event, 
should be duly announced to persons with whom one 
wishes to keep on good terms. 

If the preceding observations prove the existence of 
more refined feeling than might have been expected, 
among people who are but half clothed, the reader will 
not come to the conclusion that politeness, in our ac- 
ceptation of the term, has reached a degree of perfec- 
tion in the African villages. As among the ancient 
Hebrews, it is the custom to call things by their names ; 
it has not yet entered the head of any one that it is 
proper to give precedence to ladies, or to rise on the 
entrance of a neighbour. To refuse anything from 
motives of politeness is a thing unheard of The most 
ludicrous scenes present themselves from time to time, 
such as I witnessed one evening, when the cowherd of 
the Mission, despairing to obtain a pair of shoes for 
which he had been entreating most earnestly, ended by 
lifting up his enormous foot, and placing it on the table 
where we were drinking tea, exclaimed to a lady : 
"Look, my mother, look at my sores." 

The tribes of South Africa are less chivalrous in 
their hospitality than the Arabs ; but they are also freer 
from caprice and restrictions. They respect strangers ; 
and instead of considering the desert as beyond the 
limits of the laws of men, they say, in their expressive 



SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE. 209 

language, that the roads are kings ; which means, that 
travellers are entitled to as great a degree of security 
as if they were under the immediate protection of their 
respective sovereigns. A stranger, on entering a place 
where he has no acquaintance, seats himself in the place 
of public resort. He does not remain long unnoticed; 
the chief, or one of the principal men of the place, soon 
comes up, and asks him from what country he comes, 
and what news he brings them. Meanwhile refresh- 
ments are brought, — bread, milk, some bundles of sugar- 
cane, or maize, according to the season. No one thinks 
much about accommodation for the night, except in the 
winter, or when it rains, in which case he finds a shelter 
under certain sheds where the young unmarried men 
usually sleep. The most profound respect will be paid 
to his person and his baggage. Mokachane, the father 
of the chief of the Basutos, considered it the duty of his 
sons to remain in the public place in winter, and always 
to keep a good fire there for the convenience of travel- 
lers. " It is by listening to the discourse of these men," 
said he, " that you will become acquainted with the 
customs of foreign nations." It is much to be regretted 
that these simple customs, so well adapted to the country, 
should be discontinued in consequence of the habit intro- 
duced everywhere by Europeans, of paying, and de- 
manding payment, for everything. 



210 



CHAPTER XII. 

NATIONALITY GOVERNMENT. 

In giving the name of tribes to the various little states of 
South Africa, the first explorers have, without being 
aware of the fact, chosen the only word of our vocabu- 
lary which perfectly responds to the ideas of the natives 
as to their nationality. These travellers adopted the 
appellation in question, merely because it seemed to 
them more applicable than that of nations to communi- 
ties still in their infancy, and comparatively few in num- 
ber. Subsequent observations have taught us that, 
setting aside classifications which are purely accidental, 
originating in events of a political nature, the population 
of these countries is naturally subdivided into tribes, in 
the proper and strict acceptation of the term. Some of 
these tribes have preserved their primitive integrity, 
their national appellation being still the same as that 
which marks their original filiation. Others have become 
mixed up together, or have been compelled by conquest 
to accept a new name in common with others. But, as 
they say themselves, if the river has swallow 7 ed up the 
smaller streams, they have not therefore lost their colour. 
Whilst communities united under one government 



NATIONALITY — GOVERNMENT. 211 

generally bear the name of the chief who rules over 
them, or of the countries they inhabit, each tribe derives 
its name from some animal or vegetable. All the 
Bechuanas are subdivided into Bakuenas, men of the 
crocodile ; Batlapis, those of the fish ; Bachuenengs, those 
of the monkey ; Banares, those of the buffalo ; Batlous, 
those of the elephant; Bataungs, those of the lion; 
Banukus, those of the porcupine ; Bamoraras, those of 
the wild vine, &c. &c. The Bakuenas call the crocodile 
their father ; they celebrate it in their festivals, they 
swear by it, and make an incision resembling the mouth 
of this animal in the ears of their cattle, by which they 
distinguish them from others. The head of the family, 
which ranks first in the tribe, receives the title of Great 
Man of the Crocodile. No one dares eat the flesh or clothe 
himself with the skin of the animal, the name of which 
he bears. If this animal is hurtful, as the lion for in- 
stance, it may not be killed without great apologies being 
made to it, and its pardon being asked. Purification is 
necessary after the commission of such sacrilege. The 
reader will, doubtless, be astonished to find, near the 
Cape of Good Hope, the same ideas and mode of classi- 
fication which belong to the Indians of the New World. 
The similarity becomes still more striking when we 
observe that, in the south of Africa as in America, 
animals are not worshipped, though it is probable that 
that such was formerly the case ; but spirits are the 
objects of adoration. 

The Batlapis, the Bataungs, and the Bakuenas, the 
Barolongs of the north, have preserved the name of their 



212 THE BASUTOS. 

tribe, as a national designation. The appellations 
Basutos, Mantatis, Baperis, Baharutsis, Bakatlas, are 
applied to portions more or less considerable of distinct 
tribes, but united under a common government. The 
nation of the Basutos, for instance, is composed of at least 
six tribes, the principal of which is that of the Bakuenas 
(of the crocodile), to which the reigning family belongs. 
Generally, the sections of a people which constitute a 
tribe, keep together, and in this way perpetuate the dis- 
tinctions of language, and the customs peculiar to them- 
selves. One district of the country of the Basutos is 
called Pitting, the dwelling of the men of the chamois; 
another, Chneneng, the abode of the men of the monkey, &c; 
and on visiting them, it may very soon be observed 
that the vocabulary and the pronunciation of the words 
are not everywhere the same. 

The chief who is called to govern several tribes, 
however great may be the respect and fear he inspires, 
seldom succeeds in assimilating them sufficiently to sub- 
ject them to the same customs, and to avoid the difficul- 
ties which are constantly arising from the ideas of inde- 
pendence connected with recollections of origin. The 
elements of which the nation is composed have a tendency 
to separate, and are only held together by means of a 
system of concessions and acts of rigour, skilfully com- 
bined, but seldom based upon a foundation of strict justice. 

It is, moreover, in the nature of these little African 
states to divide into an indefinite number of fractions, 
under the influence of peace and prosperous circumstances. 
The chiefs^ being all polygamists, have a great number 



NATIONALITY — GOVERNMENT. 213 

of sons. These are all possessors of flocks and herds, 
requiring separate pasturage and water. If the increase 
of this kind of property did not allow Lot and Abraham 
to live in peace, we may easily imagine the consequences 
among people who always consider their private interests 
before everything else. In 1820, the Basutos w r ere 
beaten and completely ruined by the Zulus of Natal. It 
would have been easy for those attacked to repulse the 
enemy, had they joined and made common cause. They 
had among them an intelligent man, who proposed this 
plan, and endeavoured by every possible means to put it 
into execution. It was but labour lost. The inferior 
chiefs were at that time possessed of great wealth, and 
though they approved of a policy founded upon simple 
common sense, not one of them would join the ranks, so 
entirely were they absorbed with the idea that evil con- 
sequences might accrue to their flocks should they 
gather round a common centre, and that their posses- 
sions might, in the general confusion, fall into the power 
of one master. 

The tribes are subdivided into families of more or 
less importance. Among the Caffres, the Basutos, and 
the Mantatis, these families form a number of little vil- 
lages (motsis), placed under influential men, who are the 
representatives, and, to a certain degree, the masters of 
the community. The Batlapis, the Barolongs, the Ba- 
harutsis, and the Baperis, having settled in countries 
where water is scarce, have motsis of very great extent, 
often containing thousands of inhabitants. Authority, 
being exercised in these villages in a direct manner, 



214 THE BASTJTOS. 

meets with much fewer obstacles; this does not, how- 
ever, prevent the town from being divided into distinct 
quarters, which serve to protect the immunities claimed 
by haughty vassals. 

The Basutos give to the princes who govern them 
the title of Morena. The origin of this word is very 
beautiful ; it is formed of the verb rena : to be prosperous, 
to be tranquil. Morena, therefore, signifies, He who 
watches over the public safety and welfare. It is more 
difficult to discover the meaning of the name Khosi, 
Inlchosi, which the CafFres and the Bechuanas beyond 
the Fal river give to their chiefs. 

Associated with extreme independence in all that 
regards conduct and private rights, we observe, among 
these people, an almost superstitious respect for their 
sovereigns. There is something in this which resembles 
the ancient theory of the Divine right. The natives 
cannot conceive of a community, however limited it may 
be, that can order its own affairs, and do without a 
superior ; or, to speak in their own language, a head. 
Neither do they understand authority delegated, or 
merely temporary. They can only render obedience to 
real and undisputed power, the origin of which is hidden 
in the obscurity of the past, or which, if it is of recent 
origin, appears to be the necessary result of an order of 
things decreed by fate. Any authority, which is obliged 
to have recourse to argument to prove its legitimacy* 
would appear to them on that very account to be on a 
bad foundation. There are some chiefs who have 
attained this dignity by force of arms ; but the greater 



NATIONALITY — GOVERNMENT. 215 

number are the descendants of those families of the tribe 
who claim the right of primogeniture. 

Among the Bechuanas this right is confirmed afresh 
every year by a very simple ceremony. When the first- 
fruits of the earth are ripe, the eldest of the reigning 
family gathers a pumpkin, of which he eats the first 
morsel, and divides the rest between his brothers and 
other collateral relations, according to the order of 
their birth. When this is done, heralds are sent 
round to proclaim that the Morena has eaten the first- 
fruits. The same ceremony is repeated in all the rami- 
fications of the tribe, and then each one is at liberty to 
gather in its fruits. 

If the reigning families generally preserve their pri- 
vileges, the power is not always transmitted in a regular 
way by the rights of primogeniture. The younger 
branches are there, as everywhere, tolerably ambitious 
and restless. The Basutos have a proverb signifying 
that the likhosanas, the petty princes, make restless 
subjects. It sometimes happens that a younger brother 
gains for himself surreptitious homage, acquires a repu- 
tation for justice and skill, enriches himself by a well- 
concerted expedition, and thus eclipses his elder brother. 
The uncles, who are the natural guardians of the chiefs 
in their infancy, sometimes forget that their wards are 
grown up. It often happens that, in order to justify 
their conduct, the usurpers allege disinterested motives, 
the necessities of the commonwealth, the inexorable con- 
sequences of unexpected events. In their public ha- 
rangues, they declare themselves to be the most humble 



216 THE BASUTOS. 

servants of those whose place they occupy. It must be 
allowed that, if right is not always on their side, reason 
is sometimes found there. Right belongs sometimes to 
beings, not only incapable of governing the state, but 
even of governing themselves. Thus we have seen 
among the Basutos such a man as Libe, to whom they 
would gladly have rendered homage and obedience, but 
who disgusted one after another of his most devoted 
adherents by comparing them to flies collecting round 
the edges of a dish. He was forsaken, and received the 
name of Ralintsintsi (Father of flies), while Mokachane, 
his younger brother, took his place. 

That which the chiefs most dread is the loss of their 
riches. This misfortune is attended with consequences 
as fatal as those arising from a revolt. The chiefs are 
the great providers for the community. They must, 
with the produce of their flocks, feed the poor, furnish 
the warriors with arms, supply the troops in the field, 
and promote and strengthen the alliances which are to 
be contracted with neighbouring nations. 

The idea of taxation has not yet entered their heads. 
All their energies are therefore employed in maintaining, 
and increasing if possible, the resources they already 
possess. This all-absorbing idea generally leads them 
into courses quite contrary to those of honour and justice. 
Hence arises very often an obstinate resistance to the 
introduction of any idea or any manufacture which might 
contribute to emancipate and enrich their subjects. Hence, 
in Caffraria, so many accusations of witchcraft brought 
against those who are unfortunate enough to possess wealth 



NATIONALITY — GOYEENMENT. 2 17 

that might cause dangerous rivality. It is to the same 
reason that we must attribute those summary acts of 
justice which are called in the country eating a man, 
and which consists in the toleration of a certain offence 
until it is committed by an individual whose wealth can 
pay for all the delinquents. 

Ambition is seldom the cause of any tragical occur- 
rence in the reigning family ; sometimes, however, there 
is an exception to this rule. It is well known how 
perfidiously Dingan, the tyrant of Natal, caused his 
brother Chaka to be assassinated. One of the last 
chiefs of the tribe of the Bauaketsis committed the 
most atrocious parricide to obtain the object of his 
ambition. His father, who was too old to fight, 
placed him at the head of his warriors, and sent him 
to repulse an army of Baperis who had invaded the 
country. Sebego set off; but hardly was he out of 
sight when he commanded his men to stop, and ad- 
dressed to them the following speech: — " I am weary 
of obeying old men: it is time we should be men. 
When the enemy appears, do not let fly your assagais ; 
flee away, and hide yourselves in the woods. The Baperis, 
thinking we are vanquished, will go and massacre the 
old men in the town." The wretch was obeyed; and 
his father, with all the men who were incapable of 
bearing arms, perished. When the young Bauaketsis 
supposed that the slaughter was over, they appeared 
suddenly, and, rushing upon the Baperis, took from 
them the booty they had seized. 

The wretched old man I have just mentioned had 



2 18 THE BASUT0S. 

already been betrayed by his eldest son. Being obliged 
to send an army against this unnatural child, he had 
expressly commanded his warriors to spare his life, and 
bring him back alive. The young chief was taken 
prisoner; and, out of respect for his rank, was left in 
possession of his arms. He took advantage of this 
mark of attention to kill two of the men who had him 
in charge, and became so furious that they were obliged 
to put him to death. The victorious army soon ap- 
peared before the father, who was apprised of his be- 
reavement by the silence which reigned throughout the 
ranks, and gave himself up to lamentations as bitter as 
those of David when he mourned for his son Absalom. 

Providence, which always chastises wicked and re- 
bellious children, did not permit the crime of Sebego 
to go unpunished. This chief, after a life of troubles 
and dangers, died far from the land of his fathers, on 
the road-side, where three of his old companions in arms 
dug him a grave with their lances. 

The Caffre and Bechuana chiefs are generally very 
dignified in their gestures and movements. Being the 
descendants of families whose riches have entitled them 
to the most beautiful wives, they generally possess great 
physical* advantages over their subjects. With this 
exception, they are in no wise distinguishable from the 
common people. Sometimes they seem, like Diogenes, 
to wish to show their pride through the holes in their 
mantles. At others, they walk proudly along, clothed 
in panthers' skins, the head encircled with a band, or 
shaded by a plume of feathers. 



NATIONALITY — GOVERNMENT. 219 

The tyrants of Natal, Chaka, Dingan, and Mo- 
selekatsi who followed their example, exacted almost 
Divine homage. Those who approached them were 
obliged to crawl into their presence with averted head ; 
and woe to him who passed the fatal line traced around 
the despot ! Even messengers were obliged to respect 
these limits ; they might be heard vociferating from 
a distance the customary salutation, Baete I?ikhosi! 
and delivering their messages at the top of their voice. 
These servile habits were entirely without precedence 
in this part of Africa, and the country was deluged 
with blood in order to establish them. Nothing like 
this is ever found among the Bechuanas and most of 
the tribes of Caffraria. There every one approaches 
the most powerful chiefs without the least ceremony. 
No one dreams of rising in their presence, either as a 
mark of respect or to give them a more comfortable 
seat, when they enter unexpectedly a circle already 
formed. They are interrupted and contradicted with- 
out ceremony; and are merely addressed by their 
names, pompous titles being reserved for state occa- 
sions. In our days a petty Mosuto prince, named 
Poshuli, took it into his head to set up for a second 
Chaka, and to exact the homage due to a demigod. 
He ordered, for instance, that when he appeared in 
public the vulgar herd, who assembled to gaze at 
him, should keep at a respectful distance; and that 
the stones which obstructed his path should carefully 
be taken out of the way. Unfortunately for him, but 
fortunately for his subjects, his power was dependent 



220 THE BASUTOS. 

on that of his elder brother, whose head was better 
organised, and who would have treated the matter 
seriously if any one had been punished for not con- 
forming to this new etiquette. Thus the pretensions 
of this petty king were merely laughed at, and he 
was wise enough to let the matter drop. 

This familiarity seldom gives rise to mistakes. They 
know the lion has claws. In case of need a challenge, 
the signification of which is perfectly understood, serves 
to restore circumspection and respect. The chiefs gene- 
rally carry with them a small club, made of rhinoceros- 
horn, as a mark of their rank. When they are too 
much provoked they throw this weapon to some dis- 
tance, saying, " It is enough ! there is my rhinoceros : 
let us see who will pick it up ! " Generally every one 
makes off as fast as possible, hardly daring to look in 
the direction the weapon has taken: if any one were 
bold enough to pick it up, he would be guilty of a 
crime which would expose him to capital punishment. 

The natural moderation of both ruler and subject 
renders such occurrences extremely rare. During the 
twenty-three years I spent among the Basutos, the chief 
put no one to death from personal motives ; and nothing 
like an attempt upon his life was ever made. As he 
was walking with me one day along the cliffs of the 
mountain he inhabits, he pointed out to me a horrible 
precipice, saying, " I once had two rebels thrown over 
there, and I have often repented of it. More than once, 
when trouble has come upon me, I have attributed the 
cause of it to this act of severity." During the same 



NATIONALITY — GOVERNMENT. 221 

lapse of time, the report of not more than two or three 
executions reached us from the neighbouring tribes. 

The only largess which is customary consists in the 
distribution of food ; and generally takes place on the 
occasion of some visit of importance, a national assembly, 
or some labour performed for the sovereign. 

Independently of these distributions, the chiefs ad- 
mit to their repasts all who are desirous of being pre- 
sent. The public gaze, so far from being in any way 
disagreeable to them, seems to add a relish to the enor- 
mous pieces which find the way to their royal mouths. 
From time to time a morsel, several pounds in weight, 
is obsequiously placed by a servant before one of the 
guests pointed out by the chief. I have never seen 
these small pieces sent round, without calling to mind 
the shoulder of mutton that Samuel set by for the son 
of Kish, whom he expected to visit him. 

It is true that this famous shoulder very much 
puzzled my young imagination, when I was about ten or 
twelve years of age. I have got over my astonishment 
since then, and have even learnt not to draw back in 
dismay from a whole sheep. Let not the reader ex- 
claim. It is taken for granted that the donee immedi- 
ately becomes donor in his turn. Beside and behind 
the favoured guest may be seen a compact mass of men, 
too happy to see him eating not to be disposed to help 
him by every means in their power. He casts a glance 
round him, fixes his choice upon two or three persons 
of his acquaintance, and hands over to them the super- 
abundance of his plate ; these do the same in their turn 3 



222 THE BASUTOS. 

until the boys, who contemplate the feast from a dis- 
tance, welcome with delight the bones, from which they 
greedily suck the marrow. 

The Basuto chiefs generally have near their persons 
two counsellors, superior to the others, who are qualified 
to replace their sovereign when occasion requires. They 
are designated by the name of Monemotses (Masters of 
the town), a title analogous to that of the ancient maires 
dupalais. They are also called the eyes, ears, and arms, 
of the chief. One is the chief warrior of the tribe, and 
has the general command of the forces. Other import- 
ant personages are present daily at these deliberations, 
and perform the functions of jurymen in civil and crimi- 
nal cases. They are called Banna ha khothla; literally, 
Men of the court. 

After these, the messengers hold the place of highest 
importance. They are always men of consummate skill 
and prudence. They study to acquire gentle and po- 
lished manners. The observations they make during 
their journeys give them great advantages over their 
fellow-citizens, and sometimes even over the chiefs who 
employ them. To prevent the endless denials and con- 
tradictions which would arise from the absence of writ- 
ten treaties, the international communications- are usu- 
ally entrusted to the same men, and a special messenger 
appointed for each country. These fatiguing functions, 
which are entirely without remuneration, do not seem to 
be in the least burdensome to those who perform them. 
My old friend, Seetane (the Little Shoe), used to come 
every year, and inform me, with a smile of pleasure, 



NATIONALITY — GOVERNMENT. 223 

that he was about to depart for the court of the chief 
Panda in Natal. It was a distance of a hundred leagues 
to perform on foot, and the same to return. I always 
furnished him with a little tobacco; with that, and a 
little sack of baked flour, he set off as light and gay as 
if he were going to take a short walk. These mes- 
sengers are generally gifted with extraordinary memory, 
and will transmit word for word the oral despatches 
committed to them. 

The divers parts of this social body are bound to- 
gether by systematical responsibilities. The foundation 
of the tribe is composed of what is called among the 
Basutos the Batatas (the Green), which means the vigo- 
rous branches which spring from the primitive stem. 
The Caffres call these patrician families Amapakates, 
or Men of the centre ; in other terms, those who con- 
stitute the social kernel. To this original layer others 
are added, but in such a manner that they are all in 
connexion with the first. Thus, a stranger, who wishes 
to obtain the rights of citizenship, must be presented to 
the chief by one of the ancient inhabitants, who must be 
responsible for the conduct of the new-comer, and act as 
intermediate agent in all his relations with the sovereign. 
Captives taken in war, though they enjoy some civil 
rights, must, until they are ransomed, be in subjection 
to their conquerors. They are never permitted to re- 
turn to the country from which they originally came. 

The ideas of these people are very just as to the 
general principles which should form the foundation 
of intercourse with other nations. 



224 THE BASUTOS. 

Their laws are as follows : — 

1. That respect be paid during war to women, 
children, and travellers. 

2. That those who surrender be spared, and open 
to ransom, The offensive weapons of a captive are 
taken from him, but he generally keeps his shield. 

3. That the person of a messenger be inviolable. 
This principle has passed into a proverb : Lengosa ga le 
molatu (A delegate can have no fault). 

4. That a person being in a foreign country, if only 
on a visit, should, if an alarm is given, join the inhabi- 
tants of that country, even should it be against his own 
nation. 

5. That the person of a stranger be under the pro- 
tection of his host. 

It will not be imagined that these laws are invariably 
respected, but the public voice always disapproves of 
their violation. We have ourselves seen, during the 
course of a desperate war, the messengers of both parties 
pass freely from one camp to the other. We have also 
seen a chief send back, without ransom, hundreds of 
women and children whom he had taken captive. 

It is not strictly the duty of the chief to seek out 
crime in order to punish it, but rather to hear the com- 
plaints which are brought to him, and if they are w^ell 
founded, to see that justice is performed. The idea of 
property, which is at the root of all their social relation- 
ships, places all delinquencies in the category of theft. 
The greatest of crimes, murder, is less condemned as an 
outrage upon public safety, as a violation of the sacred 



NATIONALITY — GOVERNMENT. 225 

rights of a father, who is deprived of the services of his 
son, or of a widow and orphans, who are left without 
support. Adultery, when it is punished, is not considered 
so much in the light of an offence against decency, as an 
illegitimate appropriation of the exclusive rights which 
the husband has acquired by the purchase of his wife. 
The idea of the wrong done to the individual, predomi- 
nating in this manner over that of the offence against 
morality, the estimation of the crime must vary according 
to the age, sex, and social position of the party injured. 
It is the same with the punishment that is to be inflicted. 
The offended party specifies the kind of satisfaction he 
requires. The chief may, it is true, suggest a different 
punishment, or greatly modify any exaggerated preten- 
sions ; but at bottom, his part in the affair is generally 
restricted to hearing the parties, proving the offence, and 
granting to the plaintiff the support of his authority 
until satisfaction has been obtained. 

This preponderance of individual right has not pre- 
vented these people from recognising the necessity im- 
posed upon every member of a social body to relinquish 
the idea of taking the law into his own hands. 

They have been led to right views on this matter by 
the instinctive fear of the disorders that might arise from 
the exercise of individual law. They are often heard to 
say : (C If we were to revenge ourselves, the town (motse, 
civitas) would soon be dispersed." To guard against this 
danger, it has been agreed to allow the chief of the tribe 
a certain right over the person of every member of the 
community. This right, which is merely imaginary, is 

Q 



226 THE BASUTOS. 

nevertheless sufficiently respected to protect criminated 
persons, until their cases have been lawfully examined. 
It also insures justice to foreigners, and to individuals 
who, having no relations, are deprived of their natural 
defenders and avengers. We will remark here that 
Europeans, who settle among an African tribe, cannot 
do better than obtain an introduction to the chief, and 
gain his permission to dwell in his country, From the 
time that these direct relations are established, the chief 
becomes responsible for the life and property of the 
stranger whom he receives. 

The existence of this social principle among the na- 
tives perfectly satisfies them as to the justice of the 
arrangement, that those of their number who go and 
settle on English possessions should be judged by the 
same laws as the colonists ; but, on the other hand, they 
will never clearly see how a foreign government should 
pretend to understand offences committed against those 
of its subjects who have come to reside amongst them. 

Every subordinate chief is inferior judge in his dis- 
trict. The graver cases are reserved for the sovereign. 
Custom demands that the latter, however powerful he 
may be, should take the initiative as rarely as possible, 
but wait till his vassals bring before him those matters 
which are of sufficient importance to require his personal 
examination. This custom, while it protects the dignity 
of the inferior chiefs and the interests of their subjects, 
lessens the tendency to despotism. The natives, therefore, 
attach to it as high a value as the French did to their 
municipal immunities. It is to be regretted that the 



NATIONALITY — GO VERNMENT . 227 

tardiness, which is inseparable from such a system, 
renders it unfavourable to the preservation of friendly 
intercourse with civilised governments. The latter, 
accustomed as they are to a prompt administration of 
justice, often force the superior chiefs to deprive their 
subjects of a valuable element of liberty. The vassals 
are offended at this — the sovereign finds himself in a 
difficult position, and at length, weary of being harassed 
by a foreign power and blamed by his subalterns, he 
ends by putting himself at their head, in order to get rid 
of neighbours who are incomprehensible and trouble- 
some to all. 

The meanest subject has the right of appeal to the 
judgment of the sovereign, even in matters of the 
smallest importance. In this manner the African princes 
are generally beset with a number of small cases, to 
which they attend with exemplary patience, although 
they gain not the smallest advantage to themselves by 
so doing. 

In ordinary cases the contending parties mutually 
summon each other to appear before the authorities; 
but if one of the parties refuse to obey the summons, 
the other makes the charge, and obtains from the chief 
a verbal citation, which he carries himself to his ad- 
versary. This is generally sufficient ; for a second re- 
fusal would oblige the judge to send a special messenger, 
which is considered as a disgrace, and also entitles the 
chief to the payment of a fine. Should this summons 
be disregarded, which very rarely occurs, the con- 
tumacy is then considered as high treason, and we 



228 THE BASUTOS. 

have seen this crime punished with death in the 
most summary manner. It sometimes happens that the 
plaintiff seizes the possessions of his adversary, in case 
he absolutely refuses to appear before the tribunal. In 
this case the seizure must be notified to the chief; and 
if there is reason to fear that the defendant will seek to 
regain his property, it is placed under the chief's pro- 
tection. This mode of proceeding is generally more 
efficacious than the summons; but it is disapproved 
of as too rigorous, and calculated to create inveterate 
hatred. 

The chiefs have the right of making laws, and pub- 
lishing regulations required by the necessities of the 
times. These laws, which are generally temporary, 
have received the name of Molaos (our law, or command- 
ment). Higher than these edicts rank the Mekhoas (the 
use and wont), which constitute the real laws of the 
country. 

Fines in cattle are the ordinary punishments. An 
incorrigible thief " sometimes pays with his head," ac- 
cording to a proverb of the Basutos ; but generally the 
theft is repaired by restitution and a fine, which, among 
certain tribes, is in the proportion of four to one. 
Every murderer is by law liable to death, but the 
sentence is generally commuted into confiscation. Trea- 
son and rebellion against authority are treated with less 
lenity. An outraged husband, who kills his enemy in 
a summary manner, cannot be prosecuted; but if a 
case of adultery is brought before a chief, a fine is the 
utmost extent of the punishment. Rape and fornication 



NATIONALITY — GOVERNMENT- 229 

are treated in the same manner. In addition to the 
fine, the offender is often compelled to marry his ac- 
complice or victim. 

Cases of witchcraft are considered as extremely 
grave, and give rise to scenes of a more or less tragical 
nature, according to the personal disposition of the 
parties who considered themselves injured. The chiefs 
are generally inexorable ; they demand the head and all 
the possessions of the person accused. 

The parties concerned always plead their own cause, 
and they do this with a skill which is really surprising. 
A perfect sense of propriety, clear, cutting, picturesque, 
and at times noble language, seem natural to the Mo- 
chuana or the Caffre, called upon to defend himself. 
This kind of eloquence possesses a greater charm, from 
the accompaniment of action so natural and so perfect, 
that a person witnessing these debates is carried away 
in spite of himself. Whatever his opinion may be of 
the case in question, it is impossible to help feeling 
really interested for the pleader before him. In a cri- 
minal affair of the highest importance, a Mosuto was 
obliged to speak first, as we should say, for the crown, 
and afterwards as one of the accused. His social posi- 
tion and the nature of the debate compelled him to play 
this twofold part. The manner in which the orator 
managed this difficult affair filled me with admiration. 
The enunciation of the facts was calm, impartial, and 
complete. The witnesses present noticed no omission, 
no inaccuracy in the statements. When the moment 
came for the defence, the orator, cleverly taking ad- 



230 THE BASUTOS. 

vantage of the favourable impression produced by his 
candour, enlarged upon the moral bearing of the facts, 
and, plausible casuist that he was, found arguments at 
least equal to those of which he had been deprived, by 
the initiative he had been obliged to take in the state- 
ment of the facts. 

Causes are always discussed in public, and all present 
are allowed to take an active part, either to satisfy their 
curiosity on any point which interests them, or to aid in 
throwing further light on the matter. 

This freedom from all restriction and strict formalities 
presents an open field for ingenuity, and calls forth many 
bright ideas. The African courts of justice often pre- 
sent scenes which are highly interesting from their 
originality. The chief and some hundreds of his subjects 
were seen one day, in the locality I inhabited, sitting 
gravely in a circle, with heads uncovered, all in profound 
silence, whilst a woman, carrying an infant in her arms, 
walked slowly from one to another, examining each in his 
turn with the greatest care. She had been the victim of 
an outrage on decency, but was entirely ignorant of the 
name and residence of the family to which the offender 
belonged. The chief, after having tried in vain to dis- 
cover him by the description she gave, had proposed that 
all the male population of the place should be summoned 
to appear before her, and that she should seek him out 
herself. She was then at her task, and the slowness of 
her movements and her quick glances from one to 
another betrayed her great anxiety that no mistake 
should be made in this important matter. All at once 



NATIONALITY — GOVERNMENT. 231 

she uttered a cry, stopped and threw her child upon the 
knees of a young man, saying, "This is he who has 
committed an outrage upon the mother of this infant." 
The delinquent, covered with confusion, confessed his 
fault, and was condemned to exile, after having paid a 
heavy fine. 

The chiefs too often consider themselves above all 
law, and this idea gives rise to great abuses, from which 
there is no appeal. It seldom happens among the 
Bechuanas, that they venture to touch openly the pro- 
perty of their subjects. But they sometimes will seize the 
whole of an inheritance in return for a loan of much less 
value. They do not scruple to receive, under the title of 
homage, a part of the plunder which is taken from time to 
time beyond the limits of their territory, and when inquiry 
is made, and their position compels them to condemn the 
delinquents to make restitution of the spoil, the chief's 
share does not always find its way back to the dwelling of 
the rightful owner. Although the Bechuanas do not 
attach themselves so strongly as the Hebrews did to the 
fields from which they derive their support, yet there is 
more than one Naboth among them, who silently regrets 
a piece of land which he has been obliged to give up to 
the chief, because it was remarkably productive. This act 
of injustice is not committed openly, but concealed under 
the form of a very polite request, which few, however, 
would dare to refuse. The same thing happens if a mar- 
ried woman possesses great attractions, or any peculiar 
qualifications ; she is not carried off suddenly from her 
husband, but he is informed by his wife's parents that a 



232 THE BASUTOS. 

sum much larger than he was able to offer has been sent 
to them by some mighty chief, and the poor man is forced 
to listen to the hypocritical adieuos of a woman who is 
proud of having attracted the notice of her sovereign. 
It is true that the value of his wife is restored to him ; 
" and," says the chief, " of what does he complain ? With 
that he can get another wife anywhere." This abuse 
is not of such frequent occurrence as might be expected, 
when we consider how few are the obstacles which 
would tend to prevent it. I once heard a poor native 
complaining bitterly because his brother had been the 
victim of a similar abduction. " These kings," he said, 
"think they may do anything! Do they not know 
that their subjects can form attachments as strongly as 
themselves ?" " Hold your tongue ! hold your tongue !" 
was the reply : " in our country these misfortunes are 
irreparable ; one submits to them, or, if one prefers it, 
throws one's self off the top of a rock." 

Cases, nevertheless, occur, where the chiefs cannot 
entirely elude the demands of justice. On these occa- 
sions they have recourse to shifts and evasions to save 
their dignity. They lay the odium of their fault on 
their counsellors or favourites ; or, where this cannot be 
done, other means are not wanting. Some idea may be 
formed of the skill displayed in the management of such 
affairs from the following anecdote. The son of a pow- 
erful chief, finding himself cold one evening, crept 
stealthily to the dwelling of a Mochuana, who had an 
abundant supply of wood. It was dark, and the man 
who usually executed his orders was with him. " Go," 



NATIONALITY — GOYEKNMENT. 233 

said the young prince," and take a good armful of wood, 
and if you meet with any resistance run away. But 
be careful to make no noise!" The man was willing 
enough to go on this ignoble errand, but, just as he was 
seizing the desired fagot, a large stone, thrown by the 
owner of the wood, knocked out four of his teeth and 
broke his nose. After being confined to his hut for 
some weeks, he went to the young prince and demanded 
retribution for the loss of his teeth. The owner of the 
wood was summoned. " I must have an ox for my four 
teeth," said the wounded man. " T owe you nothing," 
said the other, coolly ; " I only defended my property." 
" It was not I who stole the wood ; I only obeyed the 
orders of my chief, who is here present." " I have no- 
thing to do with that ; every one has a right to defend 
himself in his own dwelling." " But who will pay me 
for the loss of my teeth . . . ?" "You owe me alle- 
giance," said the chief, " and I have nothing to pay you." 
In the midst of the embarrassment caused by this shame- 
ful dispute, it was remembered that the father of the 
young prince was still living, and it was decided that he 
should pay for the bad conduct of his future successor. 

The Bechuana chiefs are bound to consult their sub- 
jects on occasions where the public welfare requires the 
adoption of important measures. These assemblies, 
called piiso (convocation), are always held in the open air. 

Whatever may be the affair in question, they always 
come armed, as if for battle. Songs, and sometimes 
dances, form the prelude to these deliberations, and at a 
given signal the multitude form an immense circle 



234 THE BASUTOS. 

around their sovereign and his counsellors. One of the 
latter then explains the subject of discussion, taking care 
to let his own personal opinion appear as little as pos- 
sible. After these preliminaries, any one is at liberty 
to speak. The orators generally express themselves 
with the greatest freedom and plainness of speech. It is 
understood that on these occasions the chiefs must hear 
the most cutting remarks without a frown. Here, as 
everywhere, there is always a party for and a party 
against the government. The chiefs, therefore, w T hen 
they have much opposition to fear, endeavour to gain 
beforehand those men of whose support they are most in 
need. They also avail themselves, during the session, 
of every little means in their power to influence the 
assembly. They loudly applaud the orators who please 
them, inviting them to come and sit near them in the 
place of honour. The warriors, after having expressed 
their opinion in the most emphatic manner, indulge in 
leaps and pirouettes, and drive their javelins into the 
ground, as if to show their readiness to defend their 
opinions against every one. If they are favourable to 
the projects of their sovereign they approach him, and, 
with a blow of their club, shower around his person a 
white powder, with which they have previously covered 
their shields. This sort of incense is always rewarded 
by a salutation or a smile. 

Hisses are the most unequivocal marks of applause, 
and are as much courted in the African parliaments as 
they are dreaded by our candidates for popular favour. 
After a declamation in accordance with the general taste, 



NATIONALITY — GOVERNMENT. 235 

the voice of the orator is drowned in a burst of shrill 
sounds which force one to stop one's ears. 

The chiefs generally speak when all the others have 
finished ; they commence with an exordium, setting forth 
the legitimacy of their claims to authority. Their glance 
wanders slowly round the assembly, in search of the 
representatives of the principal families of the tribe, 
whom they salute by name, and if they observe any 
remarkable absence, demand the reason of it. When 
it is due to causes at which they have no reason to be 
offended, they are kind enough to find a substitute for 
the personage, whom they regret not to see in his accus- 
tomed place. These acts of deference are fully appre- 
ciated, and cause the aristocracy of the country to feel 
that they must not be over-affected by popular clamours. 

The opening of the discourse is generally of an his- 
torical nature, and in the absence of all written docu- 
ments the memory of the sovereign is subjected to the 
closest criticism. He must, therefore, first prove that he 
has a lucid idea of the concatenation of the facts to 
which the debate refers. " One event is always the son 
of another," said a Mochuana prince to me on one of 
these occasions, " and we must never forget the gene- 
alogy : " an excellent remark made for my benefit, as he 
thought I trusted too much to my notes. 

Then follows the declaration of the royal opinion, 
and the refutation of contrary ideas ; and woe to any 
who have been imprudent enough to take undue advan- 
tage of the liberty of speech I If the potentate they have 
attacked happens to be a witty and sensible man, he will 



236 THE BASUTOS. 

make them pay dearly for the impunity on which they 
reckoned. This is the fatal hour which gives birth to 
nicknames, which cling with the tenacity of a shadow to 
those on whom they are bestowed. 

When the assembly are satisfied, they give vent to a 
sort of prolonged shout, dwelling upon the monosyllable: 
" 227 . . . Yes! Yes!" Then each one jumps up and 
waves his shield, shouting with all his might, €e Pula ! 
Pula ! (Rain! Rain!)" an invocation signifying we are 
satisfied, and only think of cultivating our ground. 

These assemblies are entirely of a deliberative cha- 
racter, and voting is never introduced. This does not 
prevent their having a great influence on the conduct of 
the chiefs, showing them to which side public opinion 
leans, and they well know that they must not act inde- 
pendently of this powerful arbiter. 

The colonial government, in its arrangements with 
the representatives of the various tribes, seldom gives 
them time to consult the people. By this means it 
promotes despotic tendencies, and often involves the chief 
in insurmountable difficulties. 

We see, from* the preceding observations, that there 
are among these people all the elements of a regular 
government, nearly allied to the representative form, 
which only require to be developed by the aid of Christ- 
ianity, in order to furnish every possible security of 
justice and good administration. 






237 



CHAPTER XIII. 

NOTIONS UPON THE ORIGIN OF THINGS RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 

We should seek in vain, from the extremity of the 
southern promontory of Africa to the country far be- 
yond the banks of the Zambesi, for anything like the 
pagodas of India, the maraes of Polynesia, or the fetish 
huts of Nigritia. In all ages and all climates man has 
erected monuments, in accordance with his progress in 
the arts, to express his religious ideas, or to shelter 
his worship. Nothing of the kind is seen here; not 
even a consecrated stone, like that which Jacob set 
up at Luz until he was able to build an altar. The 
Arabs, first struck with this anomaly, stigmatised by 
the name of Caff res — men without belief — the tribes 
of Mozambique whom they visited for the purpose of 
finding ivory, and, if possible, of obtaining slaves. 

The constant intercourse which, for more than half 
a century, has existed between ourselves and these 
tribes, has thrown but little light upon one of the 
most interesting questions that ethnography can offer — 
Whether there really is a portion of humanity living 
in atheism, and among whom the religious instinct has 
been obliterated by absolute scepticism? 



238 THE BASUTOS. 

Most travellers, judging from appearances, have 
answered this question in the affirmative. This en- 
demical atheism was a striking confirmation of the 
ancient adage, Semper quid novi (Africa always offers 
something new). In the land of hippopotami and 
giraffes it was hardly possible that man could, or 
should, resemble man. 

The study was neither easy nor attractive. The 
absence of ostensible worship implied much that was 
vague in the religious tendencies and ideas, if any such 
existed. The exterior practices which might result 
from these ideas, being stripped of all solemnity, must 
have been confounded with ordinary actions, and have 
remained unintelligible to all except initiated persons. 
If they were noticed at all, they were presented under 
such a mean exterior that the spectator imagined them 
to be mere trifles without meaning. 

These tribes had entirely lost the idea of a Creator. 
All the natives whom we have questioned on the sub- 
ject have" assured us that it never entered their heads 
that the earth and sky might be the work of an in- 
visible Being. They have a word in their language 
signifying "having always been — to exist in an incom- 
prehensible manner" By this word they explained the 
existence of the world. They occupied themselves 
very little with this question, which they considered 
as useless and unanswerable. Nevertheless, here and 
there were found active and intelligent minds, continu- 
ally tormented with the desire to know the first cause 
of all things. 



NOTIONS — RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 239 

My colleague, Mr. Arbousset, in his Narrative of 
an Exploratory Tour, has recorded a very remarkable 
soliloquy, which leaves no doubt on this subject. Se- 
kesa, a Mosuto worthy of credence, said to us, shortly 
after our arrival in this country, " Your tidings are 
what I want ; what I was seeking before I knew you, 
as you shall hear and judge for yourselves. Twelve 
years ago I went to feed my flocks. The weather was 
hazy. I sat down upon a rock and asked myself sorrow- 
ful questions ; yes, sorrowful, because I was unable to 
answer them. 

" s Who has touched the stars w 7 ith his hands? On 
what pillars do they rest?' I asked myself, 

" ' The waters are never weary: they know no 
other law than to flow, without ceasing, from morning 
till night, and from night till morning; but where do 
they stop? — and w 7 ho makes them flow thus? 

" c The clouds also come and go, and burst in water 
over the earth. Whence come they? Who sends 
them ? The diviners certainly do not give us rain, for 
how could they do it? — and why do I not see them 
with my own eyes, w r hen they go up to heaven to 
fetch it? 

" ' I cannot see the wind, but what is it ? Who 
brings it, makes it blow, and roar and terrify us? 

66 e Do I know how the corn sprouts? Yesterday 
there was not a blade in my field ; to-day I returned to 
the field and found some. Who can have given to 
the earth the w 7 isdom and the power to produce it?' 
Then I buried my face in both my hands." 



240 THE BASUTOS. 

Another native, named Koaniane, who has since 
embraced Christianity, told me he had often wept be- 
cause he did not know why the world exists, whence 
he came himself, and what would happen to him after 
death. 

Felekoane, his friend, thought that all here below 
was the result of a blind and cruel fate. He imagined 
the universe given over to an interminable strife; the 
wind chasing the clouds; the clouds, in their turn, 
silencing the wind; darkness pursuing light; winter 
pursuing summer; and the animals devouring each 
other. Men, by their hatred and wars between nations 
and families, seemed to him destined to disappear from 
the face of the earth. Full of these sorrowful thoughts, 
he could not even look at the sky without terror, think- 
ing that it would one day fall and crush everything. 
But then (he said) his breath would come out from 
under all, and remain finally victorious. 

The origin of living beings seems to have been a 
problem almost as unapproachable as that of the exist- 
ence of inert matter. However, they occupied them- 
selves more with this question, and were fully per- 
suaded that the generations had a beginning. A legend 
says that both men and animals came out of the bowels 
of the earth by an immense hole, the opening of which 
was in a cavern, and that the animals appeared first. 
Another tradition, more generally received among the 
Basutos, is, that man sprang up in a marshy place, where 
reeds were growing. Can this be an allusion to the 
chaotic period which preceded the creation ? However 



NOTIONS — KELIGIOUS IDEAS. 241 

this may be, this fable has become so popular, that to 
this day a reed, fastened over a hut, is the symbol 
announcing the birth of a child. 

Still there were people who refused to believe these 
legends, and who went everywhere in search of some- 
thing more satisfactory, but without success. On our 
arrival among the Basutos we found a man who was 
called Father Reed, because he was continually in- 
veighing against the generally received notion, declaring 
that it was impossible for reeds to produce men, and that 
one might as well say that he himself was a reed. 

The natives say that men were originally, on account 
of their ignorance, in a position worse than that of the 
brute beasts. For a long time they obstinately persisted 
in remaining near the hole from which they had come 
out, and having no idea of the mutual support which 
solid bodies afford each other, they sustained the arch of 
the cavern by turns with their hands, lest it should fall 
and crush them. 

They regarded every kind of fruit with suspicion; 
they could not eat the grass as the animals did: no other 
resource was therefore left than to eat the food which 
had already been digested by these latter, and they fed 
on fresh dung. Corn was discovered by the jealousy of 
a woman ; she gathered the grains of this plant, thinking 
them venomous, and for some time gave them to a rival 
to eat. To the great astonishment of all, this food pro- 
duced marvellous effects, and was, from that time for- 
ward, in great request. 

By a strange, but very significative, exception, death 

K 



242 THE BASUT0S. 

is the only one of the great phenomena relative to 
humanity which the legends of these people attribute to 
the intervention of a Supreme Being corresponding to 
the God of revelation. 

" The Lord/' they say, " in ages gone by, sent this 
message to men: 'Oh, men, you will die, but you will 
rise again.' The messenger of the Lord was tardy in 
the performance of his mission, and a wicked being 
hastened to precede him, and proclaimed to men : c The 
Lord saith, c You will die, and you will die for ever." 
When the true messenger arrived, they would not listen 
to him, but replied : ' The first word is the first, the 
second is nothing. '" # 

" Who was this Lord? Where did He dwell? We 
know nothing about it," is the unanimous reply of the 
natives. Nevertheless, strange as it may appear, the 
name of this Being, whom they never invoke, is always 
on their lips when death comes to them direct from 
heaven. If any one is struck dead by lightning, no 
murmur is heard and tears are suppressed. " The Lord 
has killed him," they say; "he is, doubtless, rejoicing: 
let us be careful not to disturb his joy." 

Some touching lines, which the women generally 
repeat in their lamentations for the dead, would seem to 
prove that the Basutos have sometimes looked up to 
heaven, and desired to find a home there. The funereal 
sono* commences thus : — 

o 

* In the legend the first messenger of the Lord is designated 
by the name of The Grey Lizard, and the other who supplanted 
him, by that of The Chameleon. 



NOTIONS KELIGIOUS IDEAS. 243 

" We are left outside, 
We are left for trouble, 
We are left for tears ; 
Oh, if there were in heaven a place for me ! 

Why have I not wings to fly there ? 
If a strong cord hung down from the sky 
I would cling to it ; I would go up ; 
I would go and dwell there/' 

The poet who startled humanity by this sublime 
line,— 

" L'homme est un dieu tomb6 qui se souvient des cieux," 

was therefore not mistaken, even as regards " the black 
inhabitants of the desert." But there is another asser- 
tion, the humiliating truth of which is displayed among 
the Basutos by something far more real and more 
important than the passing echo of a song : — 

" They have transferred the honour due to the 
incorruptible God to corruptible man." 

It is, indeed, to the manes of their ancestors that 
these people address their prayers. A prophet has 
described their religion in a few words: "They go to 
the dead for the living." 

It would, perhaps, be asserting too much to say 
absolutely, that they believe in the existence and the 
immortality of the soul. They have not given to their 
ideas on this subject the settled form of a dogma. They 
allow that man is endowed with sentiments and faculties 
which the brute does not possess, and know that some- 
thing of him remains after death. They place the seat 
of life, feeling, thought, and will in the heart, and this is 



244 THE BASUT0S. 

almost the only word their language possesses to desig- 
nate the rational being in a synthetic manner. They say 
of a person reflecting, " His heart listens to itself, his heart 
measures, his heart seeks." 

They say of an intelligent person, that he has a large 
heart ; of a patient person, that he has a long heart; of 
an irritable person, that he has a short heart; of a cou- 
rageous man, that he has a strong heart; of a happy man, 
that he has a white heart; and of an unhappy man, that 
he has a black heart, that his heart is sick. They connect 
sudden or violent emotions more especially with the 
lungs : His lungs hinder him from speaking, his lungs rise ; 
the uncomfortable feeling arising from a bad action, to 
the spleen — "My spleen accuses me, my spleen bites me ;" 
perseverance and firmness in danger or suffering to the 
liver: He has a hard liver — he endures patiently. It 
must not be imagined that their language does not 
possess special expressions to designate the feelings or 
the intellectual operations; but when these operations 
and feelings are considered as regards their seat, the 
language becomes material. 

Too much stress must not, however, be laid upon 
this point. Does not our metaphysical vocabulary 
abound in expressions of an equally unrefined nature ? * 

* Among the Egyptians the heart represented the entire 
soul. Also among the Hebrews, it was not only, as it is with us ? 
the seat of the passions, but also that of the understanding. The 
words socors, vecors, sufficiently prove that the word cor was ori- 
ginally used among the Eomans to express understanding. It 
is still found employed in this sense by the most ancient authors, 
such as Plautus and Terence. 



NOTIONS — RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 245 

The natives invariably say of a person who has just 
expired^ " His heart is gone out ; " of a sick person who 
has been at the point of death, but who has recovered, 
"His heart is still there; his heart is coming back" — 
unexceptionable proofs that the heart is, in their eyes, 
something more than the physical organ called by that 
name. " To go away — to depart — to return to Ids fathers" 
— are the expressions generally used in speaking of 
death. A horrible imprecation, which is too often 
heard to escape their lips — "May you die amongst the 
dead," or, "in the region of the dead" — show r s that 
annihilation, if it were possible, would appear to them 
the greatest of all misfortunes. The adoration they 
render to the deceased establishes the fact that, in spite 
of the scantiness and confusion of their metaphysical 
notions, they believe that man still exists after death, 
and is capable of acting upon the living in a beneficial 
or pernicious manner. This residue, which they gene- 
rally call seriti (shadow), is something resembling the 
little, cloudy, pale, quivering soul, that Marcus Aurelius 
on his death-bed seemed already to see escaping from 
his bosom. In their minds, the existence of this unde- 
finable substance is, to a certain degree, connected with 
the preservation of the organic particles of the body. 
They believe, like the ancients, that a mysterious con- 
nexion is continued between the shade and the ashes. 
Persons who are pursued in their sleep by the image of 
a deceased relation, are often known to sacrifice a victim 
on the tomb of the defunct, in order, as they say, to 
calm his disquietude. They believe that the dead can 



246 THE BASUT0S. 

render themselves visible whenever they please; and 
the fear of these apparitions exercises a real influence, 
even on the stoutest hearts. The cruel Dingan, whose 
iron yoke long weighed heavily upon the tribes inhabiting 
the country between Natal and Mozambique, dared not 
go out in the evening, for fear of meeting the furious 
shade of his brother Chaka, whom he had killed with 
his own hand. 

The Zulu-Caffres imagine that their ancestors gene- 
rally visit them under the form of serpents. # As soon, 
therefore, as one of these reptiles appears near their 
dwellings, they hasten to salute it by the name of father 
— place bowls of milk in its way, and turn it back 
gently, and with the greatest respect. Thus iEneas 
thought he saw the servant of his father, on perceiving 
a serpent in the tomb of Anchises : — 

" Tandem inter pateras et laevia pocula serpens, 
Libavitque dapes, rursusque innoxius imo 
Successit tumulo et depasta altaria liquit ." 

This does not prevent their addressing the spirits of 
their ancestors in a direct manner, and believing that 

* The serpent (in Sechuana, nog a; in Sanscrit, nag a; and in 
Hebrew, wro) is in many fables the symbol of the new life that 
man finds after having laid aside the body. The reason for this 
is probably the annual change of skin to which the serpent is 
subject. The Sclavonic and the Germanic tribes had a super- 
stition somewhat analogous to that of the Zulu-Cafires. " They 
believed that there were in every house a couple of serpents, that 
only appeared after the death of the father or mother of the 
family." 



NOTIONS — RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 247 

they may exist otherwise than under the form of a 
reptile. The following conversation leaves no doubt on 
the subject. One of our converted Basutos, addressing 
a Caffre, originally from Natal, asked him, "What is 
the confidence (belief) of your nation? and when you 
pray in your country, what do you say ? " u We 
invoke the dead (setoutsela). We say, 'O Mose, son of 
Motlanka, look upon us ! Thou, whose smoke is seen 
by all men, turn thine eyes upon us this day, and 
keep us, O our god ! ' This is how we pray." The 
Caffre added, that Mose was one of the most remote 
ancestors of the sovereigns of his tribe. The word 
smoke, or vapour, must be understood in the sense of 
manifestation. 

The Barolongs render a kind of worship to deranged 
persons, believing them to be under the direct influence 
of one of their tutelary deities. 

All the natives believe the world of spirits to be in 
the bowels of the earth. They call this mysterious 
region mosima (the abyss), mosima o sa thlaleng (the 
abyss which is never filled)- This is the shehol of the 
Hebrews, the hell of the Teutons. The imaginations of 
some persons adorn this abode with valleys that are 
always green, and people it with speckled flocks and 
herds, without horns, immortal, like their possessors. 
But the generally received opinion seems to be, that the 
shades wander about in silent calm, experiencing neither 
joy nor sorrow. The Baperis, a tribe established on the 
northern shore of the Fal river, affirm that the entrance 
to these infernal regions is in their country, and that they 



248 THE BASUTOS. 

sometimes venture in, taking care previously to join 
hands, and cry to the inhabitants of the dark abode, 
"Gods, retire: we are going to throw stones!" It is a 
singular coincidence that there is also a Styx, which 
bears the more euphonious title of Tlatlana. A cistern 
is also found there, containing the nectar of the gods, of 
which no mortal may drink with impunity. 

Every being, to whom the natives render adoration, 
is called Molimo, the signification of which shows that 
it is by no means of heathen origin. It is evidently 
composed of the prefix mo, which belongs to almost all 
those words representing intelligent beings, and of the 
root Jiolimo — above, in the sky. Moholimo, or the abbre- 
viation Molimo, therefore, signifies, He who is in the shy. 
There is an obvious contradiction between the language 
and the received ideas; in spite of a universal per- 
version, which probably dates many centuries back, 
truth has reserved itself a witness in the vocabulary of 
these people. The missionaries have not hesitated to 
adopt this venerable word, which seemed, as it were, 
only to await their arrival to reascend to its source, 
leaving in their nothingness the false deities that had 
hitherto been the objects of worship. 

Each family is supposed to be under the direct influ- 
ence and protection of its ancestors ; but the tribe, taken as 
a whole, acknowledges for its national gods the ancestors 
of the reigning sovereign. Thus, the Basutos address 
their prayers to Monaheng and Motlumi, from whom 
their chiefs are descended. The Baharutsis and the 
Barolongs invoke Tobege and his wife Mampa. Mampa 



NOTIONS — KELIGIOTJS IDEAS. 249 

makes known the will of her husband, announcing each 
of her revelations by these words " re! re ! He 
has said! he has said!" They make a distinction be- 
tween the ancient and modern divinities. The latter 
are considered inferior in power, but more accessible ; 
hence this formula, which is often used : " New gods, 
entreat the ancient gods for us!" 

In all countries spirits are more the objects of fear 
than of love. A deep feeling of terror generally accom- 
panies the idea that the dead dispose of the lot of the 
living. The ancients spoke much of incensed shades. 
If they sacrificed to the manes, it was generally in 
order to appease them. These ideas perfectly corre- 
spond to those of the Basutos. They conjure rather 
than pray; although they seek to gain favours, they think 
more of averting chastisement. Their predominating 
idea as to their ancestors is, that they are continually 
endeavouring to draw them to themselves. Every 
disease is attributed to them; thus medicine among 
these people is almost entirely a religious affair. The 
first thing is to discover, by means of the litaola (di- 
vining bones), under the influence of what molimo the 
patient is supposed to be. Is it an ancestor on the father's 
side or the mother's? According as fate decides, the 
paternal or maternal uncle will offer the purifying sacri- 
fice, but rarely the father or brother. This sacrifice 
alone can render efficacious the medicines prescribed 
by the ngaha (doctor). The latter points out the victim 
to be offered. Large and small animals are used in 
sacrifice; and sometimes, though not often, a cock. 



250 THE BASUTOS. 

The colour, sex, and age of the animal, are determined 
by the indications drawn from the bones, a dream, or 
any other significative incident. As soon as the victim 
is dead, they hasten to take the epiploon, or intestinal 
covering, which is considered as the most sacred part, 
and put it round the patient's neck, after having twisted 
it to give it the form of a necklace. The gall is then 
poured upon the head of the patient, accompanied by 
the following prayer : " Oh, gods, retire (or rather 
disperse yourselves); leave our brother in peace, that 
he may sleep his sleep." A mixture of gall, liquid out 
of the stomach, and pounded herbs, is then placed upon 
the hut, and all defiled persons are carefully removed 
from it. 

The animals destined for the patient's food should 
be killed and cut up by a young man of pure habits. 
After a sacrifice, the gall-bladder is invariably fastened 
to the hair of the individual for whom the victim has 
been slain, and becomes the sign of purification. 

As soon as a person is dead he takes his place among 
the family gods. His remains are deposited in the cattle- 
pen. An ox is immolated over his grave: this is the 
first oblation made to the new divinity, and at the same 
time an act of intercession in his favour, serving to 
ensure his happy reception in the subterranean regions. 
All those present aid in sprinkling the grave, and repeat 
the following prayer : " Repose in peace with the gods ; 
give us tranquil nights." 

Tertullian, speaking of the heathen of his time, says 
somewhere: "From the moment of its conception, the 



NOTIONS — KELIGIOUS IDEAS. 251 

child is consecrated to the idols and demons they wor- 
ship. The person of the mother during her pregnancy 
is surrounded with small bands, which have been pre- 
pared with idolatrous rites." The same custom prevails 
among the Basutos. As soon as a woman is with child 
a sheep is sacrificed, in order to render the gods pro- 
pitious to her; and the skin of the animal is rendered 
supple and made into an apron, which serves to screen 
her from witchcraft. 

Young wives, to whom maternal joys have been denied, 
form rude effigies of clay, and give them the name of 
some tutelary deity.* They treat these dolls as if they 
were real children, and entreat the divinity, to whom 
they have consecrated them, to give them the power of 
conception, They may often be seen all out of breath 
running from one village to another, to have dances per- 
formed in honour of their patron. 

After the corn has been threshed and winnowed, it is 
left in a heap on the threshing-floor. Before it can be 
touched a religious ceremony is performed, which re- 
minds us of the offering made by the Israelites to Jeho- 
vah of the first-fruits of the earth. Those to whom 
the corn belongs bring a new vessel to the spot, 
in which they boil some of the grain. When it is 
cooked they throw a few handfuls on the heap, and 
utter these words : " Thank you, gods ; give us bread 
to-morrow also!" When this is over the rest is eaten, 
and the provision for the year is considered pure and fit 

* This is the kind of idol, the representation of which has 
been given among several kinds of ornaments. . 



252 THE BASUTOS. 

to eat. This custom might serve as a commentary on 
those words of St. Paul : " If the first-fruits are holy, the 
lump is also holy." 

While the corn is exposed to view, all defiled persons 
are carefully kept from it. If the aid of a man in this 
state is necessary for carrying home the harvest, he 
remains at some distance while the sacks are filled, and 
only approaches to place them upon the draught oxen. 
He withdraws as soon as the load is deposited at the 
dwelling, and under no pretext can he assist in pouring 
the corn into the baskets in which it is preserved. On 
going over the threshing-floor after the harvest is 
gathered in, a little hollow filled with grain may gene- 
rally be noticed; this is a thank-offering to the gods. 

At the feasts, a certain quantity of beer is separated 
from the rest, and placed religiously in the most remote 
corner of the hut ; after some time the old men go and 
drink the sacred liquor, as the Jewish priests ate the 
shew-bread. 

In times of famine, the natives dig along the streams 
and around the pools deep ditches, which they carefully 
cover over with branches and rubbish picked up in the 
fields, hoping that the game, on coming to drink, will 
fall into these snares. This sometimes happens, but as 
the antelopes are at least as sagacious as they are light- 
footed, the poor Mochuana must often be satisfied with 
watching at a distance the graceful gambols of those 
daughters of the wilderness. He then addresses himself 
to the gods, and gives to each of the pits the name of the 
molimo who, he supposes, should be propitious to him. 



NOTIONS — RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 253 

An Orpheus in his way, he plays his one-stringed lyre, 
and he and his family indulge in noisy dances, and com- 
pose hymns, the energetic naweti of which seems to 
prove that the inspirations of hunger are not always to 
be despised. 

Travellers, on arriving at the frontier of a foreign 
country, seek to propitiate the gods of that country, by 
rubbing their own foreheads with some dust that they 
pick up from the road, or by making themselves a girdle 
of grass. But the molimos are not always treated in 
this courteous manner. If a marauding expedition is 
made into the country under their protection, no one 
has any scruple in seeking to deceive them ; and for 
this purpose, on crossing the flats and watercourses, the 
special haunts of the shades, the marauder gives utter- 
ance to those cries and hisses in which cattle -drivers 
indulge when they drive a herd before them, thinking 
in this manner to persuade these poor divinities that he 
is bringing cattle to their worshippers instead of coming 
to take it from them. 

Before leaving this subject, I will relate one more 
particular, no less ridiculous, but proving how the 
imagination of these people is continually dwelling upon 
the existence and habitual proximity of spirits. If two 
men are walking together, and one of them stumbles, 
this trifling accident is the result of a wager made by 
their respective balimo. In like manner, Phoebus and 
Boreas amused themselves by seeing which of them 
would succeed first in making a traveller throw off his 
mantle. N 



254 



THE BASUTOS. 



Unfortunately, in the invisible world of the natives 
there are neither rewards for the good, nor punishments 
for the wicked, nor any prospect of resurrection. 

Joano dos Santos, a Dominican Missionary, who 
visited Mozambique in 1506, found among the CafFres 
of his time religious ideas precisely resembling those we 
have just described. But then the notion of retribution 
in a future life still existed among them. Some aged 
Basutos, whom we have questioned on this subject, 
seemed to have some slight recollection of two cate- 
gories of souls, the fate of one differing from that of the 
other. 

These religious beliefs were only valuable in so far 
as they contributed to maintain some feeling of human 
dignity, and thus to preserve the natives from a state of 
complete brutishness. Perhaps, also, the idea of a uni- 
versal subordination to a supreme and immaterial order 
of things may have served in some measure to moderate 
the desires and the passions. It was a valuable starting- 
point for Christianity, an indispensable element of suc- 
cess reserved by Providence. As to the idolatrous 
system connected with it, it will be clearly understood 
how subversive it is of all improvement and salutary 
reform, when we consider that, according to the gene- 
rally received notions, the anger of the deified genera- 
tions could not be more directly provoked than by a 
departure from the precepts and examples they have 
left behind them. 

There was, however, a time when morality was con- 
nected with the religious ideas of these people. The 



NOTIONS — RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 255 

prayers they offer to their ancestors are always accom- 
panied by lustration and sacrifice, and purity is the 
invariable symbol of the favours they implore. 

In the language of the natives, the words Happiness 
and Purity are synonymous. When a Mosuto says 
that his heart is black or dirty, it may either mean that 
his heart is impure or afflicted ; and when he says that 
his heart is white or clean, we do not know, until he ex- 
plains himself further, whether he speaks of innocence 
or joy. Our earliest converts could not understand that 
there was no profanation in coming to the table of the 
Lord when they were in sorrow. I have often tried to 
overcome this scruple, at the same time admiring that 
instinctive homage paid to the principle, that moral evil 
is the primary cause of all sorrow. But as in their wor- 
ship the creature has taken the place of the Creator, so 
unhappiness, the effect of sin, has caused them to lose 
sight of sin itself, and now suffering and accidents of all 
kinds to which humanity is liable are considered as de- 
filement, and are called by that name. The idea of 
defilement is expressed by three different words : bocliu, 
blackness; tsila, uncleanness, impurity; bokhopo, that 
which is not right : that of purification is expressed by 
the words, tlatsoa, to wash ; phekula, to purify. 

Death, with all that immediately precedes or follows 
it, is in the eyes of these people the greatest of all defile- 
ments. 

Thus the sick, persons who have touched or buried a 
corpse, or who have dug the grave, individuals who in- 
advertently walk over or sit upon a grave, the near 



256 THE BASUTOS. 

relatives of a person deceased, murderers, warriors who 
have killed their enemies in battle, are all considered 
impure. They regard in the same light cattle taken 
from the enemy, towns in which an epidemic reigns, tribes 
that are a prey to war or adversity, corn blasted by 
blight or damaged by locusts, and houses or individuals 
that are struck by lightning. 

There are five distinct modes of purification : sacri- 
fice, the lustral horn, ablution, sprinkling, and fire. 

The most usual mode of sacrifice has already been 
described, on the occasion when prayers are offered to 
the spirits in favour of the sick. They resort to this 
method in all cases that seem to require the intervention 
of a power superior to that of man. Sometimes the vic- 
tim is immolated near the grave of the deceased whom 
they invoke, or, if the grave is at too great a distance, on 
one of the stones with which it is covered, and which is 
fetched for the occasion. Certain tribes, after having 
slaughtered the victim, pierce it through and through, 
and cause the person who is to be purified to pass between 
the pieces. 

The horn, which among the Israelites was the symbol 
of power and might, is, among the Basutos, that of con- 
fidence and security. Every chief possesses one, the 
virtues of which he is continually extolling. It contains 
a specific which purifies from defilement, and by that 
means rectifies past evils and guards against future 
accidents. Divers plants, known only to a small number 
of initiated persons, and the flesh of certain animals, are 
burned with religious respect, and the horn is carefully 



NOTIONS — RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 257 

filled with the ashes, which are first reduced to a fine 
powder. An ox is then sacrified to consecrate the mix- 
ture ; the virtues of the gall are added to these sacred 
elements, and the epiploon rolled together is used as a 
stopper. 

If an epidemic appears in the community, if public 
affairs are in a bad condition, or war threatens to break 
out, the horn is brought into the enclosure where the 
assemblies are held, the people collect there from all 
sides, and the chief, armed with a lancet, makes a slight 
incision in the temples of each one, and introduces a little 
of the mystic powder. They next proceed to purify the 
locality, and for this purpose small pieces of wood, 
covered with the same powder, are driven into the 
ground in various quarters. This formality is strictly 
observed when they settle upon a new site. It is called 
pinning down the town, so that the wind of adversity may 
not blow it away. The choice of the ingredients of 
which the purifying mixture is made is always sym- 
bolical. They consist of plants, the foliage of which 
withstands the rigours of winter; mimosas, whose thorns 
present an impenetrable barrier to all animals of the deer 
kind ; the claws, or a few hairs from the mane of the lion, 
the most courageous of all animals ; the tuft of hair sur- 
rounding the root of the horns of the bull, which is the 
emblem of strength and fecundity ; the skin of a serpent; 
the feathers of a kite or a hawk. This belief in the 
inoculation of the virtues of certain substances, is the 
principal cause of the mutilations which the natives 
sometimes inflict on the corpses of their enemies. The 



258 THE BASUTOS. 

bleeding pieces which they bring from the battle-field 
are used in the composition of a powder, which is sup- 
posed to communicate to them the courage, skill, and 
good fortune of their adversaries. 

Ingredients of the same nature as those we have men- 
tioned, when diluted in a considerable quantity of water, 
are used in sprinkling — a ceremony which is frequently 
performed. If the purification is of a public character 
the chief prepares the liquid, and for that purpose re- 
tires, with his diviner, into a secret place, and beats the 
mixture until an abundance of froth is produced ; then, 
putting a little of this froth on his head, he returns to 
the assembly, and his mysterious counsellor waters in a 
copious manner all present, by means of a very primitive 
but very convenient brush — the tufted tail of a kokong, 
or blue gnu. This kind of holy water is not only 
sprinkled upon men, but also upon their habitations, 
their corn, and their cattle. 

Ablution is especially performed on return from 
battle. It is absolutely necessary that the warriors 
should rid themselves, as soon as possible, of the blood 
they have shed, or the shades of their victims would 
pursue them incessantly, and disturb their slumbers. 
They go in a procession, and in full armour, to the 
nearest stream. At the moment they enter the water 
a diviner, placed higher up, throws some purifying 
substances into the current. This is, however, not 
strictly necessary. The javelins and battle-axes also 
undergo the process of washing. 

Fumigation is more especially employed in the puri- 



NOTIONS — RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 259 

fication of corn, and of the cattle taken from the enemy. 
Before allowing the captured herds to mix with those 
already in the possession of the tribe, they are assembled 
in a certain place, and men, bearing bundles of lighted 
branches, run round the mass of animals, so as to sur- 
round them with a circle of smoke. 

As soon as the corn comes into ear it is subjected, 
every evening, to treatment of the same kind. Those 
who have the charge of it light a small fire in the 
middle of the field before they go away, and throw 
into it drugs, the combustion of which is supposed to 
avert all evil influence. 

This custom gives the country a very picturesque 
appearance. Nothing is more pleasing to the eye than 
this immense carpet of undulating verdure, assuming 
the most fanciful forms, from each of which arises a 
column of whitish smoke, as if from a gigantic altar. 

Fire is also used for purification in those cases which 
do not appear of importance enough to necessitate a 
sacrifice. Thus, if a mother sees her child walk over 
a grave she hastens to call it, makes it stand before her, 
and lights a small fire at its feet. 

The natives believe that these various ceremonies 
operate powerfully upon the moral nature of those who 
undergo them. 

The idea that exterior and material means are 
capable of acting on the soul, and changing its tenden- 
cies, is so deeply enrooted among them, that the first 
conversions to Christianity that they witnessed were all 
attributed to the influence of some mysterious specific, 



260 THE EASTJTOS. 

which those who frequented the society of the mission- 
aries had unconsciously received from their hands. 

A certain sacrifice or purification summons wisdom 
to their councils, and renders their warriors invincible ; 
another suppresses revolts, and brings back the hearts 
of subjects to their chiefs ; another stupefies the enemy, 
and lulls him into fatal security. It is Balaam and 
Balak over again, going to meet their enchantments, in 
order to transfer the victory from the camp of Israel to 
that ofMoab. 

Hence it arises, that all the success which attends 
the Africans in their struggles with Europeans, is fol- 
lowed by 'a reaction fatal to the cause of Christianity and 
civilisation. 

Although all recollection of the institution of the 
Sabbath is lost among these people, they have preserved 
the idea that certain solemn and important circumstances 
demand the consecration of certain days of repose. They 
abstain from all public labour on the day when an influ- 
ential person dies. At the approach of clouds which 
give promise of rain they abstain from going to their 
fields, or they hasten to leave them, in order quietly to 
await the desired benediction, fearing to disturb Nature 
in her operations. This idea is carried to such an ex- 
tent, that most of the natives believe that, if they obsti- 
nately persist in their labour at such a moment, the 
clouds are irritated and retire, or send hail instead of 
rain. Days of sacrifice, or great purification, are also 
holidays. Hence it is that the law relative to the repose 
of the seventh day, so far from finding any objection in 



NOTIONS — KELIGIOUS IDEAS. 261 

the minds of the natives, appears to them very natural, 
and perhaps even more fundamental, than it seems to 
certain Christians. 

Of all the institutions that tradition has handed down 
to them, circumcision is the one to which the South 
African tribes appear to cling with the greatest tenacity. 
This rite must at its origin have made a deep impression 
on the human mind, as a symbol of moral transformation. 
The Basutos, before our arrival among them, were com- 
pletely ignorant of its origin. Superstition has taken 
hold of it; ignorance has rendered it a barbarous, and, in 
many respects, a ridiculous practice ; but, nevertheless, 
the moral and religious idea has survived. The per- 
formance of this rite is followed by several months of 
seclusion for those young men to whom it has been 
administered, during which time they are superintended 
and disciplined by men called mesuge (those who render 
supple). The weakness of the principles of morality, 
which is the necessary result of long ages of Paganism, 
neutralises the little good which might arise from this 
rude catechumenship. Still, there are in it traces of 
a real initiation into the proprieties and duties of life, as 
they are understood by these people. Among much 
that is puerile in the admonitions addressed to these 
young men, this injunction is often repeated: " Amend 
your ways ! amend your ways ! " the signification of 
the w T ords being heightened by repeated strokes of a 
switch. Certain scriptural expressions, which appear 
strange to us, such as, "Circumcise your hearts,'' "people 
uncircumcised in heart," are in constant use among the 



262 THE BASUTOS. 

Basutos. They are frequently heard to repeat that 
there is no circumcision for the tongue ; which means, 
that this member is incorrigible. 

The age chosen for the administration of this rite is 
about the same as that of Ishmael, when he and his 
father Abraham received the sign of the covenant. 
Nevertheless, it often happens that the young men of in- 
ferior rank are advanced or retarded to suit the conve- 
nience of the sons of the chiefs. The latter are, from 
their birth, considered as destined to command those 
individuals who entered the world at or about the same 
time as themselves, and the ceremony of circumcision 
gives a sacred character, and sets an indelible seal upon 
those relations which have been formed by anticipation. 

Each member of these corporations called taha 
(branches) undergoes the rite at the same time ; the 
body receives the name of the young prince who pre- 
sides, and forms under his orders a new phalanx, which 
is added to the defenders of the country. 

The opprobrium which among the Israelites attached 
itself to the uncircumcised, exercises a no less powerful 
influence on the young Bechuanas. They ardently long 
for the hour when they shall be for ever delivered from 
the detestable appellation of hashimane, which exposes 
them to incessant raillery, stigmatises them as unfit for 
all the rational business of life, and renders them real 
pariahs. 

In due time the young candidates are secretly in- 
formed that their desires are about to be gratified, and 
that they will now become men. They immediately 



NOTIONS — RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 263 

escape from the town, and go and hide themselves in 
the fields, feigning a revolt, which is intended to give 
the adult population to understand that they are weary 
of the state of inferiority in which they are at present ; 
upon which the warriors arm themselves from top to 
toe, and, with the chief at their head, go and bring back 
the young insurgents. Their return is followed by 
noisy dances, which are the signal of the festival. 

The next day, huts are constructed in a retired spot, 
which are, for six or eight months, to be the places of 
shelter for the new corporation. These cabins bear the 
name of mapato, or mystery. 

The songs and dances are recommenced ; and then 
all the male population, with the exception of children 
who are too young for the performance of the rite, 
direct their steps to the chosen retreat. 

When the ceremony is over the crowd withdraw, 
leaving the mopato under the direction of the men 
chosen to superintend and instruct the youths. 

They receive daily instruction in the use of arms. 
They learn how to throw the javelin with precision and 
swiftness, to whirl round in the air a formidable club, and 
to ward off, by means of a little square shield, the blows 
of the enemy, from whichever side they may proceed. 

To accustom them to bear suffering courageously, 
and to drive vice from their hearts, they are scourged 
frequently, and without mercy; and while the switch 
hisses through the air, and comes down upon their 
naked limbs, their castigators cry out, " Amend your 
ways ! Be men ! Fear theft ! Fear adultery ! Honour 



264 THE BASUTOS. 

your parents ! Obey your chiefs !" The poor victims of 
this barbarous education make it a point of honour to 
affect absolute impassibility, and the greater number 
display a stoicism which would have been admired at 
Laced aemon, at the feasts of Diana Orthia. 

During the coldest season they lie on the ground 
entirely uncovered. They are compelled to make long 
fasts, and then their hands are tied behind them, and 
long strips of meat are dangled before their lips, until, 
more fortunate than Tantalus, they contrive to seize a 
few morsels. 

The law allows that any pupil, who seeks to escape 
these severities by flight, should be put to death. Cases 
of desertion were formerly rare; their number has in- 
creased since the introduction of the Gospel, but this 
new principle has also mitigated the consequences of 
desertion. 

It sometimes happens that the severe treatment proves 
fatal to some poor child, who is less robust than his 
companions. If circumstances permit, the matter is kept 
secret until the process of initiation is over. Then a 
messenger places himself silently before the parents of 
the deceased, and breaks a vessel of clay at their feet. 
The lamentations which immediately burst forth prove 
that this symbolical action is but too well understood. 

It is allowable for all men who have been circum- 
cised themselves, to visit the mopato whenever they 
please, and add their precepts and their blows to those of 
the directors. Women, children, and all foreigners be- 
longing to a nation among whom the rite is not practised, 



NOTIONS — RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 265 

are carefully kept at a distance. We have ourselves 
seen a missionary, who was otherwise much respected, 
pursued by armed men, for having dared direct his steps 
to one of these formidable places. 

The young scholars are made to learn a number of 
little compositions, which generally consist in descrip- 
tions of animals, or narrations of hunting and military 
expeditions. The measure is perfectly regular, and the 
style not wanting in poetry, though it is not easy to 
seize the meaning. The natives themselves seem to see 
in them nothing more than a series of sounds which are 
agreeable to the ear, but without any serious meaning. 
The following is a short specimen : — 

Noniana tse cheu These white birds, 

Eamolahaniane Streaked with black, 

Gorimo li yang 1 What do they eat up there ? 

Li ya serereku They eat fat. 

Serereku pitsi, The fat of a zebra. 

Pitsi ka mabala Of a coloured zebra, 

Mabala makoali Of striped colours, 

Mang monguerere. With noisy nostrils, 

Maluma ka tlaku. With resounding feet. 

Kuana tlasi, kuana Far off, yonder, far off. 

Kupu le tibile, The haze is thick. 

Motla le e tloha, When it is dispersed 

Fuba se le teng, There is a breast 

Sa ho kirietsa. Which will resound. 

(That of the lion.) 

In this rustic academy they employ themselves with 
the study of the principal phenomena of nature, and the 
lack of scientific explanations is supplied by the most 
attractive allegories. As among the ancient Phoenicians, 



266 THE BASUTOS. 

Bel or Baal was the male divinity, and Beltes or Astarte 
the female one, so these wondering youths are taught 
that the sun is a man and the moon a woman. Peals of 
thunder are compared to the flapping of the wings of a 
gigantic bird. The solstices receive the names of sum- 
mer-house and winter-house, because our great luminary 
seems to rest there for a few days. The earth is likened 
to a prodigious animal, on which beings infinitely smaller 
are sporting about. The rocks are the bony framework 
of the monster, the vegetable earth his flesh, and the 
rivers his blood. 

The exercises and the discipline of the mopato last 
about six months, after which the young men are 
anointed from head to foot, receive warm and decent 
clothing, choose a new name, and return to the village, 
where they are welcomed with dancing and shouts of 
joy. The moment they leave their place of penance it 
is consigned to the flames, and they are forbidden to look 
back at the spot where they are supposed to have left 
their vicious dispositions and the follies of childhood. 
Shortly after their re-admission to society each one pays 
a visit to the chief members of his family, particularly to 
his maternal uncle, who performs the functions of a god- 
father, and who must now give his nephew a javelin for 
his defence, and a heifer for his future support. 

As long as their parents do not think of marrying 
them, these young men live together in dwellings not 
unlike our watch-houses, which are close to the abode 
of the chief. They are then considered as set apart for 
public service, and are expected to lead the flocks to 



NOTIONS — RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 267 

graze without any remuneration, to carry messages, to 
furnish the fuel for the court where strangers are re- 
ceived, and to fetch building materials from a distance. 
They should make it a point of honour not to wander 
about the village at improper hours, and always to be in 
their place when all the company lie down under their 
ox-skins to sleep. Fathers, who suspect their sons of 
leading a disorderly life, take advantage of this occasion 
for solving their doubts. This sort of precaution is 
generally without effect, but it is interesting to see 
men, who are not very scrupulous as to their own per- 
sonal conduct, watch with a jealous eye that the suc- 
ceeding generation should preserve, as long as possible, 
some vestiges of purity. 

The old Basutos regret to see falling into disuse a 
custom which acted as a great restraint upon the young 
men, of which marvellous things are related, and which 
reminds us of the judgments of God in the middle ages, 
or of that of the red heifer in the republic of Israel. It 
was customary, immediately after the birth of a child, to 
kindle the fire of the dwelling afresh. # For this pur- 
pose it was necessary that a young man of chaste habits 
should rub two pieces of wood quickly one against 
another, until a flame sprung up, pure as himself. It 
was firmly believed that a premature death awaited him 
who should dare to take upon himself this office, after 
having lost his innocence. As soon, therefore, as a 



* This custom has been observed by M. de Chateaubriand 
among the North American Indians. 



268 THE BASUTOS. 

birth was proclaimed in the village, the fathers took 
their sons to undergo the ordeal. Those who felt them- 
selves guilty confessed their crime, and submitted to be 
scourged rather than expose themselves to the conse- 
quences of a fatal temerity. The same result was ob- 
tained by offering them some milk to drink, in which 
certain drugs had previously been mixed. The impru- 
dent youth, who might be led from motives of shame to 
accept this challenge, would not go unpunished ; malig- 
nant blotches broke out all over his body, the hair fell 
from his head, and if he escaped death, he could not 
avoid the infamy of his double fault. 

Girls from twelve to thirteen years of age are also 
subjected to a rite, to which certain tribes give the 
name of circumcision, but which more resembles bap- 
tism. They are committed to the charge of certain 
matrons, whose duty it is to watch over them for several 
months ; these women first lead them to a neighbouring 
stream, send them into the water, and sprinkle them. 
They then hide them separately in the turns and bends 
of the river, and telling them to cover their heads, in- 
form them that they will be visited by a large serpent. 
Thus, these poor daughters of Eve have not forgotten 
the form taken by the arch enemy to deceive their 
mother. Their limbs are then plastered over with white 
clay, and over the face is put a little straw mask, an 
emblem of the modesty which must henceforward rule 
their actions. Covered with this veil, and singing me- 
lancholy airs, they daily follow each other in procession 
to the fields, in order to become accustomed to the 



NOTIONS — RELIGIOUS IDEAS. 269 

labours of agriculture, which in that country devolve 
especially on their sex ; in the evening they bring back 
a small fagot of wood. Neither blows nor hard treat- 
ment are spared, in the vain hope of better fitting them for 
the accomplishment of the duties of life. They frequently 
indulge in grotesque dances, and at those times wear, as 
a sort of petticoat, long bands composed of a series of 
rushes artistically strung together. The natives pro- 
bably find that the rattling of this fantastic costume 
forms no disagreeable accompaniment to the songs and 
clapping of hands in which they indulge. 



270 



CHAPTER XIV. 

AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 

It is evident that, if the ideas and practices which 
have furnished the subject-matter of the preceding chap- 
ter do not present, as a whole, enough of what is homo- 
geneous and clearly spiritual to merit the name of reli- 
gion, they belong, at least, to the department of religious 
feeling, and must have contributed, in some measure, to 
perpetuate those instincts and requirements of the soul 
which she could not entirely shake off without denying 
herself. I am aware that to this day it is, to some 
degree, conventional to turn away without examination 
from these incoherent rites, and only to regard them as 
so many more obstacles to the introduction of Christ- 
ianity. For my own part, I cannot help feeling a cer- 
tain respect for these traditions, incomplete and bar- 
barous as they may be. I see in them a dyke resisting 
the invasion of absolute materialism, and therefore an 
element of success which God has in His wisdom reserved 
for His word. Chapters without end might be written 
upon the superstitions in which Africa abounds. It is 
well known to be the classic land of charms and 
amulets. 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 271 

Will the reader be courageous enough to follow me 
into the region of the absurd and the monstrous ? The 
repugnance with which I undertake the task of conduct- 
ing him thither will serve as a guarantee that our excur- 
sion shall be as short as possible, and that we will content 
ourselves with one glance into the abyss of credulity 
into which man may fall when he is not upheld by 
any satisfactory faith. 

Look at those strange objects hanging from the necks 
of our little black friends. There is a kite's foot, in 
order that the poor child may escape misfortune with 
the swiftness of the kite in its flight. Another has the 
claw of a lion, in order that his life may be as firmly 
secured against all danger as that of the lion ; a third is 
adorned with the tarsus bone of a sheep, or an iron ring, 
that he may oppose to evil a resistance as firm as iron, 
or as that little compact bone without marrow, which 
could not be crushed between two stones without dif- 
ficulty. 

What is the use of that shard, so carefully rounded 
off, and bored through the middle, suspended by a cord, 
on which are strung a few glass beads ? The girl who 
wears it used to take her food in a vessel of clay made 
on purpose for her; the vessel was broken, and the 
imagination of the mother saw in this accident the pre- 
sage of a greater misfortune, and, lest a similar fate 
should befall the child, she made her an impenetrable 
shield of one of the broken pieces. 

You are astonished to see on the chest of a full- 
grown man a poor insect, which might be taken for 



272 THE BASUTOS. 

dead, but for the slight quivering of its mutilated legs. 
Alas, it has been there a long time, and its sufferings 
will not soon be at an end ! The poor creature cannot 
die, and it is this inexplicable vitality which is the cause 
of its torture; it must, nolens volens, communicate its 
immortality to its tormentor! 

There is a warrior, who has mixed the hair of an ox 
among the hair of his own head, and fastened to his 
mantle the skin of a frog. You must know that the ox 
from which these hairs have been taken has no horns, and 
is on that account very difficult to catch ; as to the frog, 
it is needless to remind you how agile and slippery are 
its movements ! Our hero is therefore sure to escape all 
the inconveniences of his dangerous profession. „ 

In this privileged country there is a remedy for 
every imaginable evil, an infinity of means to obtain all 
that the heart can wish. 

The traveller, exhausted by days of fatigue and ab- 
stinence, sees in the distance the smoke of the village 
where the friend resides whom he is going to visit. A 
discouraging idea crosses his mind : Who knows whe- 
ther his friend, being more hungry than usual, will not 
before his arrival empty all the dishes which the house- 
wife had carefully kept in reserve? Our traveller 
advances uneasily, looking from one side of the road to 
the other : but soon his countenance brightens ; he sees 
by the roadside a heap of stones, the signification of 
which is well known to him. He picks up a pebble, spits 
upon it, and throws it on the heap. The danger is past, 
his host is hungry no longer. 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PR ACTICES. 273 

A chief who wishes to preserve the friendship of an 
ally with whom he has just had a conference, sends reli- 
giously to have the grass cut upon which this ally sat 
during the interview. This grass is deposited in a hole 
in the centre of the court where public affairs are dis- 
cussed. Another, who has the misfortune to govern a 
town which is almost depopulated, causes the tufts of 
grass and bushes, which grow where the roads cross 
each other, to be pulled up. 

The famous Moselekatsi, during an interview with 
the English naturalist, Dr. A. Smith, took the traveller's 
snuffbox, and, under pretence of feeling the polished 
surface, he passed it slowly between his hands, hoping 
by that means to appropriate some of the vital particles 
of the doctor and arm himself against all injurious 
influence. 

Every hunter who fears he may return home empty- 
handed should scarify his feet, and rub them with cer- 
tain magical drugs, to enable him to catch the game. 
The same operation performed on the arms will give 
him a true and steady aim. 

If the skin of the boa-constrictor is burnt, a smoke is 
obtained which causes the cattle to produce fine heifers, 
and ensures the ripening of the wheat. 

But more than enough has been said on these un- 
qualifiable absurdities ; it now remains to speak of super- 
stitions of a far more serious nature, which, by their 
terrible effects, would alone be sufficient to justify the 
epithet of unhappy, w r hich is generally applied to the 
land of Ham. The belief in witchcraft is spread over all 

T 



274 THE BASUTOS. 

the country, but nowhere productive of more disastrous 
effects than among the tribes occupying the southern 
extremity of this vast continent. 

The Basutos say that the introduction of this fatal 
art is attributable to a powerful queen of antiquity. She 
possessed two wands, which enabled her to do whatever 
she pleased. Weary of indulging in these criminal pas- 
times alone, she took her daughter-in-law with her one 
evening to a retired spot. The sorceress made some 
mysterious signs, which were immediately followed by 
the appearance of wolves, monkeys, and a number of 
people torn from their beds by an all-powerful charm. 
A scene of confusion ensued which baffles all description. 
Furious dances were performed, monstrous transform- 
ations took place, till the queen, feeling tired, approached 
her daughter-in-law, and giving her the two wands, 
said: — " We have need of rest, make a sign with this 
wand and w T e shall go to sleep; when we have rested 
sufficiently, wave the other and we shall awake." The 
princess made the appointed signal, and every creature, 
not excepting the wolves and the monkeys, was imme- 
diately buried in the deepest sleep. Then, being fright- 
ened at the scenes she had witnessed, she hastened back 
to her own dwelling. The next morning the queen was 
nowhere to be found ; she was sought for in the different 
parts of the town, but the messengers of the king were 
astonished to find that searches of a similar nature were 
being made in every direction. In one house the hus- 
band was missing, in another the wife ; in others, both 
husband and wife were absent. At length, it was agreed 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 275 

to call a council, to deliberate upon this inexplicable 
event. The princess herself soon appeared, and related 
what had happened. The king, preserving the sang- 
froid inherent to his dignity, said to his daughter-in-law: 
— " You have forgotten to use the second wand. Lead 
us, without delay, to the spot where you have left the 
queen." All the town followed the sovereign. The 
princess waved the awakening wand, and immediately 
the wolves fled, the monkeys climbed up the trees, and 
the sleepers went back to their dwellings. The terror 
produced by this event did not deter a multitude of 
wicked people from following in the steps of the queen, 
and sorcery soon became universal. 

I do not believe there is a single CafFre or Mo- 
chuana who has to this day been able to get rid of the 
fear of this imaginary power. The most advanced would 
readily agree with a chief who once held forth in my 
presence on the matter: — " Sorcery only exists in the 
mouths of those who speak of it. It is no more in the 
power of man to kill his fellow by the mere effect of his 
will, than it would be to raise him from the dead. This 
is my opinion. Nevertheless, you sorcerers who hear 
me speak, use moderation." 

Those of my readers who have not yet forgotten the 
old tales of their nurses will have found out that they 
are in a well-known region. In the remote wilds of South 
Africa they recognise their were-wolves, their witches' 
dance upon the desert heath, their magic wand, or, if they 
prefer it, the famous broomstick. To complete the list 
of the animals in league with wizards and witches, we 



276 THE BASUTOS. 

must, however, add to wolves and monkeys the unclean 
raven, the owl, mangy dogs that have no masters, and 
certain antelopes, capricious in their manners, that come 
stealthily wandering about the dwellings of men, and 
when the master of the house puts out his head utter a 
plaintive cry, and vanish in a most mysterious manner. 

It must also be observed, that according to what the 
natives say, witchcraft is attended with far more serious 
consequences in these countries than those which are 
generally attributed to it in our own, 

The natives do not do things by halves, and if they 
bewitch any one, it is with the intention of killing them. 

More than this, if the grave of their victim is not 
carefully watched until the corpse has fallen entirely to 
decay, the sorcerers raise it again, and send it by night 
to torment the living, amuse themselves with it at their 
leisure, or employ it in servile occupations. The horrors 
of the vampires of Illyria and Hungary are thus added 
to the malice of witchcraft. 

Every injurious agency of a supernatural character, 
which has ever been conjured up by the most frenzied 
imagination, is known and dreaded by these poor people. 

The evil eye, the sinister threat, the suspicious ges- 
ture, go hand in hand with the use of bewitched sub- 
stances, mixed in the food, or merely deposited in the 
dwelling, the garden, or at the spring mostly frequented 
by the person who is the object of hatred or vengeance. 

The blood of the antelope caama is the most powerful 
ingredient in the pharmacy of these miscreants. Any- 
thing, however, serves their turn ; a few hairs from the 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 277 

beard, a lock of hair, some nail- parings, a drop of blood 
from the nose which has fallen to the ground, and which 
has not been rendered impalpable by effacing it with the 
foot. Sometimes the sorcerer does no more than ride 
over the hut on a wolf's back, or send a monkey to perch 
upon the top. 

These superstitious ideas have the most disastrous 
effects. In a multitude of cases, a mere indisposition 
becomes under their influence a fatal malady. Setting 
out from the principle that it is absolutely necessary to 
withdraw the patient from the influence of the person 
who has cast the spell upon him, they immediately banish 
him far from all human habitation, often under a rock 
which hardly affords him a sufficient shelter. There, 
reduced to the society of one or two persons, and de- 
prived of all the comforts and conveniences to which he 
was before accustomed, the patient soon falls into a state 
of the deepest melancholy. He covers himself with 
miserable rags, ceases to wash himself and to take 
care of his person, takes coarse food, and never opens 
his mouth but to curse the supposed author of his 
misery. 

Manaile, the wife of Moshesh, was attacked with a 
serious indisposition, and was removed to a distance of 
four leagues from her usual place of abode. At the request 
of her husband I went to see her, and found she had all 
the symptoms of the commencement of dropsy. 

I was convinced that it would be impossible for me 
to do her the slightest good at such a distance, and there- 
fore requested that she might return to Thaba-Bosio. 



278 THE BASUTOS. 

" What !" cried she in terror, " into the midst of my 
murderers ? Never I .... I will die under this rock." 

A month was spent in parleying on the matter. 
The relatives of the patient were furious against me for 
having made so rash a proposal. 

At length, however, my arguments overcame the 
ridiculous opposition in the mind of the chief. 

Manaile was brought back ; she arrived in the night, 
in order that no one might see her, and was concealed in 
a room in my dwelling. The next day was devoted to 
finding her a hut; and it was no easy matter to find one 
in which there was no cause for fear. One was spacious 
and airy, but some one in the neighbourhood was just 
dead. Another faced the public road. A third belonged 
to a friend of the supposed sorcerer. It was getting 
late, and we did not yet know where to lodge poor 
Manaile. 

Towards evening, one of her cousins offered to receive 
her in his abode. It was quite a new hut, and there was 
nothing to fear from the neighbours, as most of them 
were in my service and under my direct influence ; and 
my patient was conveyed there under cover of the night. 
With the help of good books, I then began a course of 
treatment which soon produced a visible improvement ; 
but being convinced that a perfect cure could only be 
effected by means of a great deal of exercise and a 
generous diet, I endeavoured to persuade Manaile to re- 
sume some of her habitual occupations, and to partake 
of dry and nourishing food. 

All my entreaties were useless. The idea of leaving 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 279 

the hut made her shudder, and she entirely lost her 
appetite from want of exercise. 

" Manaile," I said to her one day, " I see that you 
have no confidence in me!" 

" Oh ! do not speak so/' she replied, hastily ; " my 
heart says, Thank you! thank you! Even though I 
am silent, my heart says, Thank you!" — " This hut 
is killing you. Why do you refuse to go out of it?" 
— " The Basutos are very wicked ; they have put a 
fountain in my body!" — "How so?" " When I re- 
turned from the fields one day, some of the chiefs' wives 
offered me some beer to drink. Death was in the 
vessel!" — " Why do you think so? What reason had 
they to hate you?" Here the brother of Manaile, who 
was present, answered for her: — " Manaile," he said, 

" was beautiful ; now she is thin and disfigured 

but then she was beautiful ; and very industrious also. 
Her curdled milk and her butter were always so white 
and fresh! Her field had such fine wheat! Moshesh 
loved Manaile; this is why they have killed her." 
— u My friends," said I, to these unhappy victims of 
superstition, " believe me, God alone can cause life 
or death- Unless there was poison in the vessel, the 
beer given her by the wives of Moshesh has done 
Manaile no harm." — " No," replied she; " there was no 
poison, but the vessel was bewitched ! Yesterday, when 
I was resting outside the hut, a raven perched upon 

me!" "Well! and the raven?" — "It was 

sent! . . . They do not wait till I am dead!" . . . 

Possessed by these sinister ideas, Manaile refused 



280 THE BASUTOS. 

to follow my advice, and my efforts were useless. 
However, I still had some hope, when her relations 
took her from under my care, and placed her in a 
cavern, where, after a few months of severe suffering, 
she expired in the arms of her mother, the only person 
who had remained near her. 

This poor woman could only account for her 
dropsy by supposing that a spring of water had been 
put inside her. The profound ignorance in which 
most of the natives are as to the natural causes and 
symptoms of the various morbid affections, generally 
causes them to imagine that their diseases arise from 
the introduction of some foreign substance. Sometimes 
they fancy there is something inside them crawling, 
writhing, or running from one part to another. I once 
knew a patient who affirmed that he had a swarm of 
black drones in his stomach- Another, from whom a 
fatty tumour had been removed, triumphantly showed 
the fat that had been put between the skin and the 
muscles. This error is greatly to the advantage of 
certain impostors, who pretend to draw out, by suction, 
the innumerable articles which the sorcerers are clever 
enough to introduce into the poor human body. 

The efforts that have been made to this day to 
prove to the natives the folly of these imaginary 
terrors have been almost entirely without result, be- 
cause their exclusive object has been to influence the 
minds of the victims of this prejudice. It has been 
too much forgotten, while we exhaust the resources of 
argument on the one hand, and of ridicule on the 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 281 

other, that there really exist evil-disposed persons, who 
pretend to the power of witchcraft, and in this manner 
spread terror and sow the seeds of the most serious 
maladies by their abominable practices. When God 
commanded the Israelites not to suffer a sorcerer to 
live, there is no doubt but that the command applied 
to wretches of this description. There are also many 
cases when the individual said to be bewitched has 
really been poisoned. The English Government re- 
ceives under its protection all the fugitives who are 
prosecuted by the chiefs for crimes of witchcraft. 
Pakati, who governs one of the tribes on the coast of 
Natal, not long ago sent a remarkable message on this 
subject to the British authorities: — "Pakati begs his 
English lords not to treat the question lightly. His 
lords say they do not believe that the sorcerers can 
cause the death of any one. There are certain people 
who are rejoiced to hear this, and who intend to take 
advantage of it to execute the most fatal designs. 
Let Government beware lest it protect murderers at 
the expense of the lives of innocent people." 

I once had occasion to exercise church discipline 
upon a woman, a member of my flock, who had lost 
her only son in rather a sudden manner, and who 
obstinately persisted in attributing this misfortune to 
a neighbour, who had deposited a bewitched bone in 
the ground where the w T heat grew, which furnished the 
food of her child. A year afterwards the unhappy 
mother, while digging up the same field, found the 
fragment of a rib, all covered with blood, and wrapped 



282 THE BASUTOS. 

up in a piece of skin. I was immediately informed 
of the circumstance, and I ascertained that some one 
had taken a cruel pleasure in tormenting this unhappy- 
woman. 

For want of a wise law, which would tend to put 
down this kind of offence, the belief in witchcraft is 
handed down from generation to generation, and gives 
rise to crimes and acts of vengeance of the most atrocious 
kind. The Caffre chiefs sometimes turn it to political 
account. In order to get rid of a vassal who has offended 
them, or to seize upon the riches of an opulent subject, it 
is sufficient to cry out that he is a wizard, and all the 
population, roused by this execrable name, sacrifice the 
most innocent victim, without the slightest remorse. 

Mokoko, a petty chief among the Amakosas, had 
established himself under the protection of the Basutos, 
near the spot where the station of Hebron is now 
situated. Shortly afterwards, his elder brother, who 
possessed numerous flocks and herds, came to join him. 
I saw them both at Moriah, where they were endeavour- 
ing to procure some wheat. Mokoko, who knew me 
already, introduced the new-comer to me, that I might, 
as he said, form the friendship of a great man. But the 
traitor was, in the bottom of his heart, nurturing the 
most diabolical designs. He coveted the wealth, and 
meditated the ruin, of him who, to use his own expres- 
sion, had been fed from the same breast as himself. An 

attack of gout furnished the necessary pretext. N 

w T as accused, and on the same day condemned and 
dragged to execution. The most frightful death had 



AMULETS SUPEESTITIOUS PEACTICES. 283 

been prepared for him. Two fragments of rock, situated 
very near to each other, suggested to his tormentors the 
idea of roasting him alive. They lighted a large fire 
round these two masses of rock, and, when they were 
nearly red hot, they fastened the pretended sorcerer to a 
post in the narrow space between them. Armed men 
then began to torment him, and every movement that he 
made to escape, the points of their javelins caused him 
horrible agony. His body soon became one large wound; 
but death, on whom the unhappy man called loudly for 
release, came but slowly to his aid, and his sufferings 
lasted several hours. 

The Bechuanas are, generally speaking, too gentle in 
their dispositions for such scenes to take place among 
them; still this kind of judicial murder is not unknown 
to them. We can only say that they are seldom guilty 
of it, and that they take no pleasure in torturing their 
victims. 

DiviNiNa Doctoes. 

The vague persuasions and superstitions of the 
natives offer to cupidity a field too rich to be left un- 
cultivated. There exists among these people a crowd of 
clever and cunning men, who, under the generic name of 
engakas, or learned men, perform the functions of priests, 
prophets, diviners, and doctors, and enrich themselves at 
the public expense. The chiefs favour them, and find 
in them powerful auxiliaries. They more especially 
seek the society of those who pretend to foretell the 
future, or to keep up direct communication with the 



284 THE BASUTOS. 

world of spirits. These impostors are distinguished from 
the rest of their brotherhood by the title of noges, which 
would seem to trace back the origin of their pretensions 
to the time when the spirit of Python acted as guide to 
mankind. Noge is a substantive, formed from the verb 
noga, which signifies to divine supernaturally, and which 
is identical with the root noga> serpent. I had frequent 
intercourse with the private diviner of the sovereign 
of the Basutos. He was a man evidently superior to 
the mass of his fellow-citizens. Always affable and 
polite towards me, he knew how to elude, with perfect 
tact, those contests which would have proved highly 
unfavourable to himself. At a time when he had no 
idea of the inflexibility of Christian principles, he seri- 
ously proposed to me to make common cause with him. 
He saw no end to the advantages which would result, 
to both himself and me, from this alliance. ft I cannot 
lie," I answered; "and lying is your trade." — " We do 
not lie," he replied; "but we are mistaken. When my 
predictions are not realised, I say that all days are not 
alike, and they believe me again." 

Anticipating, in the most skilful manner, the will or 
the desires of his master, Chapi makes it his business to 
sanction their realisation. If, for instance, the chief is 
contemplating a military expedition, long before the plan 
is known to the public the wily diviner spends whole 
nights in wandering round the town: he is heard to 
groan, and give vent to piercing cries ; he spends the 
days succeeding these night-watches in gloomy silence ; 
at times, he is seen to approach the chief in a wild and 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PEACTICES. 285 

disturbed manner — he is about to speak — all those pre- 
sent cease their conversation, but his tongue is still 
bound — he looks sorrowfully around him, breaks out 
into violent sobs, and withdraws. At length the oracle 
declares itself, and the torments of divination are about 
to cease. Chapi returns from his nocturnal walks, his 
shoulders striped with white — the gods themselves have 
made these marks upon the person of their faithful inter- 
preter, in order that no one may doubt the truth of his 
words. He then predicts, to the sovereign of the tribe, 
imminent dangers and secret plots, which render it 
necessary that great preparations should immediately be 
made. He announces certain victory, and specifies the 
colour and the age of the victim the gods demand as the 
reward of their kind intervention. It may easily be 
imagined who feasts upon it. 

Chapi has made many revelations of this kind since I 
have known him. The first time it was the deceased 
queen Mamohato, who had appeared to him not far from 
the town. She did not seem at all disposed to make any 
mystery of her visit, for she ended by bestriding the 
shoulders of the diviner, who afterwards affirmed he had 
never felt such a weight in his life. 

On another occasion Pete, the chief's grandfather, 
took the trouble to come himself to inform us that a 
neighbouring tribe w T ere preparing to attack us. It must 
be observed that Pete had had the misfortune to be de- 
voured by cannibals, a circumstance worthy of being 
noticed to the honour of our magician. It is clear that 
if he does not shrink from such notorious imposture, 



286 THE BASUTOS. 

neither does he shrink from the inevitable consequences 
of sound metaphysics, but believes that a person whose 
flesh and bones have been digested by anthropophagi and 
their dogs, is as capable of existing and acting as one 
whose ashes repose in peace in the grave. 

In 1851, a diviner named Omlangene caused the 
Caffres to fly to arms, by predicting certain victory on 
their side, and assuring them that the bullets of the 
English would be entirely without effect, and that the 
sea would swallow up their vessels with all their soldiers. 
He pretended that he had come back from the spirit 
world, and many of the Basutos firmly believed him to 
be a second incarnation of their ancient chief Motlumi, 
who was renowned for his benevolence, and whose name 
is often invoked in times of public calamity. 

The credit of these prophets is maintained, thanks to 
the extreme credulity of those by whom they are sur- 
rounded, and to some strange coincidences which seem 
to justify their pretensions. During our long sojourn in 
Africa we have known many predictions which had 
not the smallest result, but we once witnessed a fact 
which, in the minds of the natives, would certainly com- 
pensate for an endless number of subsequent disappoint- 
ments. In 1851 war had become inevitable; the only 
question was, whether it would be more advantageous to 
await the approach of the enemy or to commence the 
attack. Manchupa, a woman till then unknown, informed 
the chief that she had fallen into a trance, and that a 
being whom she designated in no other way than by the 
words He, Him, had charged her to tell the whole 



AMULETS SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 287 

tribe to stand upon the defensive, that the enemy would 
come, and would be almost destroyed in a contest so 
sharp, and of such short duration, that it would be called 
the Battle of Hail, and that after that there would be a 
long interval of repose, the rains would be abundant, 
and that the seed might be sown and the harvest 
gathered in without fear. We were informed of this 
message at the time it was sent, and three weeks after 
the predicted combat took place. The enemy made the 
assault; but not being acquainted with the localities, they 
suffered themselves to be driven towards frightful preci- 
pices, from the tops of which hundreds of men fell pell- 
mell, so that a few moments sufficed to decide the battle. 

As the defeated party was favoured by the colonists, 
every one expected speedy retribution of a most serious 
nature. But according to the prediction of Manchupa, 
the Basutos enjoyed a respite long enough to permit them 
to sow their fields and gather in their harvest. The rains 
were very regular, and the crops abundant. 

The Amakosas and the Tembukis, in spite of their 
defeat, have not forgotten the wreck of the Birkenhead, 
laden with troops sent out to reduce them to subjugation. 
The fact of three hundred men being swallowed up at 
once, will always appear to them a sufficient confirmation 
of the words of Omlangene, when he assured them the 
sea would fight for them. 

At the time of this impostor's appearance, a striking 
instance occurred of the docility with which these super- 
stitious people submit to the sacrifices imposed on them, 
by the deceptions of which they are the victims. It was 



288 THE BASUTOS. 

necessary, in order to obtain the triumph promised by 
Omlangene, to follow his prescriptions to the letter. He 
enjoined these people to give up immediately all the 
amulets, preservatives, charms, and medicines they had 
in their possession, and to slay without mercy all the 
oxen, cows, calves, sheep, and goats of a tawny or yellow 
colour. Knowing the almost idolatrous attachment of 
the Bechuanas to their cattle, we believed that this latter 
demand would ruin the credit of the diviner : however, 
nothing of the sort occurred ; the enthusiasm became 
universal ; thousands of animals in the finest condition, 
and of great value, were sacrificed without hesitation. 
Some of the members of our Churches, who had for 
years given proof of their sincerity, did not escape the 
contagion. Since that time I have better been able to 
understand the eagerness with which the Israelites gave 
up their golden ornaments to make themselves a visible 
god. 

To indicate the direction taken by strayed animals, 
to say if they are still living, and whether there is any 
chance of finding them again, is one of the most import- 
ant branches of the art of the African diviners. There 
is, in fact, no manner of question which they do not un- 
dertake to answer. If your wife or child is ill, they will 
tell you if they will recover. If you have a friend in a 
foreign land or engaged in war, you may at once ascer- 
tain whether he is still living, if he is returning, or if, on 
the contrary, he is going further away from you. It is 
not necessary for this purpose to have recourse to the 
mysteries of the magic art. A little necklace of bones 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 289 

and thin sheets of ivory is all that is required. The bones 
represent animals ; the pieces of ivory, human beings : 
male and female are known by certain distinguishing 
marks. It is agreed that a certain part of the bone re- 
presents the head, another the back, and so on. . . . 
The consultation begins. The magician takes off the 
bones he generally wears round his neck, unstrings 
them, and places them in the palm of his hand. You 
wish to know in what direction your horses have strayed? 
in what condition they are? Very well. . . . The 
bones are now in the ground ! . . . The magician 
examines them and mutters certain technical phrases, 
which are in the Caffre language, if he is himself a 
Mochuana ; for in that country, as elsewhere, it is neces- 
sary to speak in an unknown tongue, to inspire the vul- 
gar with awe. All at once you see hesitation yielding 
to certainty, and fear giving place to hope. Sometimes 
he appears dismayed at his discoveries ; but he remarks 
something which had at first escaped his observation, 
which in some measure removes his fears. If another 
member of the fraternity happens to come up, the two 
enter into a grave discussion in a low voice. At length 
they come to a decision. "Your horses are gone 
towards the sun-rising ; one is ill or wounded, the others 
are returning ; and if you seek them in the direction spe- 
cified, you w^ill soon find them." You are surprised at 
such clearness of perception? Reserve your astonish- 
ment till there is more cause for it! . . . When a 
well-timed present has gained you the honour of initia- 
tion, you will discover that the whole matter is a mere 

u 



290 THE BASUTOS. 

game of chance. Your horses are gone towards the east, 
for the bones fell in that direction ! They are return- 
ing; see, the heads of most of the bones are turned 
towards the diviner. One of your horses is sick or 
wounded ; mark, one bone is lying on one side : if it 
were lying on its back it would be much worse — your 
horse would be dead. 

If you had wished to know how your child's indispo- 
sition would terminate, a thin plate of ivory would have 
been consulted. If this object had fallen on its back, 
then adieu to hope ; if it had fallen on its face, it would 
have foretold a long and serious illness. Has it fallen 
on its side ? Then there is no cause for fear, as it is in 
this position that man sleeps when in health. These, 
and others of the same nature, are the little secrets of 
this jugglery, which has its dupes even among the co- 
lonists of European origin. We must not forget to ob- 
serve, that if the divining art reduced to these propor- 
tions does not seem to require any long study, it is also 
lost with the greatest facility. It is unanimously asserted 
by all the wearers of bones, that if they inadvertently 
neglected to spit before eating, they would become ex- 
actly like other mortals. 

The diviners who are most criminal in their preten- 
sions are those who give themselves out as called upon 
to discover sorcerers. They enjoy great reputation 
among the Caffres, and find but too much occupation in 
their unhappy country. The process by which these 
"scenters" (as they are called) pretend to discover the 
guilty would be very amusing, if it were not followed by 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 291 

such terrible consequences. It might be turned into a 
very pretty game for children. In reality, it consists in 
nothing more than giving the form of a very solemn de- 
cision to conclusions already settled in the minds of the 
complainants, and which the diviner has a thousand 
means of learning beforehand. 

Let the reader picture to himself a long procession 
of black men, almost in a state of nudity, driving an ox 
before/them, advancing towards a spot of rising ground, 
on which are a number of huts surrounded with reeds 
A fierce-looking man, his body plastered over with 
ochre, his head shaded by long feathers, his left shoulder 
covered with a panther's skin, and having a javelin in 
his hand, springs forwards, seizes the animal, and, after 
shutting it up in a safe place, places himself at the head 
of the troop, who still continue their march. He com- 
mences the song of divination, and every voice joins in 
the cry, " Death ! Death to the base sorcerer who has 
stolen into our midst like a shadow ! We will find him, 
and he shall pay with his head ! Death ! Death to the 
sorcerer!" The diviner then brandishes his javelin, and 
strikes it into the ground as if he were already piercing 
his victim. Then raising his head proudly, he executes 
a dance, accompanied with leaps of the most extraordi- 
nary kind, passing under his feet the handle of his 
lance, which he holds with both hands. On reaching 
his abode he again disappears, and shuts himself up in a 
hut, into which no one dare enter. The consultors then 
stop, and squat down side by side, forming a complete 
circle. Each one has in his hand a short club. Loud 



292 THE BASUTOS. 

acclamations soon burst forth: the formidable noge 
comes forth from his sanctuary, where he has been oc- 
cupied in preparing the sacred draught, of which he has 
just imbibed a dose sufficient to enable him to discover 
the secrets of all hearts. He springs with one bound 
into the midst of the assembly ; all arms are raised at 
once, and the ground trembles with the blows of the 
clubs. If this dismal noise does not aw T ake the infernal 
gods, wdiom he calls to council, it serves at least to 
strike terror into the souls of those wretches who are 
still harbouring sinister designs. The diviner recites, 
with great volubility, some verses in celebration of his 
own praise, and then proceeds to discover of what the 
ornament consists which he expects, in addition to the 
ox he has already received, and in whose hands this 
present will be found. This first trial of his clairvoyance 
is destined to banish every doubt. 

One quick glance at a few confederates, dispersed 
throughout the assembly, apprises them of their 
duty. 

"There are," cries the black charlatan, "many 
objects which man may use in the adornment of his 
person. Shall I speak of those perforated balls of iron 
which we get from the Barolongs ? " 

The assembly strike the ground with their clubs, but 
the confederates do it gently. 

"Shall I speak of those little beads, of various 
colours, which the white men, as we are told, pick up 
by the sea-side ? " 

All strike with equal violence. 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 293 

" I might have said, rather, that you had brought 
me one of those brilliant rings of copper." 

The blows this time are unequal. 

"But no; I see your present — I distinguish it per- 
fectly well It is the necklace of the white 



men 



?" 



The whole assembly strike on the ground violently. 
The diviner is not mistaken. 

But he has disappeared: he is gone to drink a 
second dose of the prepared beverage. 

Now he comes again. During the first act his 
practised eye has not failed to observe an individual 
who seemed to be more absorbed than the rest, and 
who betrayed some curiosity, and a considerable de- 
gree of embarrassment. He knows, therefore, who is 
in possession of the present; but, in order to add a 
little interest to the proceedings, he amuses himself for 
an instant — turns on his heel, advances now to one, 
now to the other, and then, with the certainty of a 
sudden inspiration, rushes to the right one, and lifts 
up his mantle. 

"Now," he says, "let us seek out the offender. 
Your community is composed of men of various tribes. 
You have among you Bechuanas ? (unequal blows on the 
ground); Batlokoas? (blows still unequal); Basias? (all 
strike with equal violence) : Bataungs ? (blows unequal). 
For my own part, I hate none of those tribes. The 
inhabitants of the same country ought all to love one 
another, without any distinction of origin. Nevertheless, 



294 THE BASUTOS. 

I must speak. Strike — strike! The sorcerer belongs 
to the Basias!" 

Violent and prolonged blows. 

The diviner goes again to drink from the vessel con- 
taining his wisdom. He has now only to occupy 
himself with a very small fraction of the criminated 
population. 

On his return, he carefully goes over the names of 
the individuals belonging to this fraction. This is very 
easy in a country where almost all the proper names are 
borrowed from one or other of the kingdoms of nature. 
The different degrees of violence with which the clubs 
fall upon the ground give him to understand in what 
order he must proceed in his investigation, and the farce 
continues thus to the end. The reader sees that the 
profession is by no means a difficult one, and that if he 
had no more conscience than the noges, he might gain 
oxen with equal ease. 

Before leaving this mournful subject, I must point 
out two other means of discovering sorcerers, which are 
far more expeditious, and again remind us of those 
trials by ordeal which were so in vogue among our 
ancestors. 

One consists in dressing an ox whole, and inviting 
all the persons in the neighbourhood to come and partake 
of it. If any one happens, during the repast, to swallow 
a piece which is disproportionate to the capacity of his 
throat — or, as schoolboys say, to choke- — this unfor- 
tunate person is sure to be the offender. 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 295 

The other method does not even offer the consolation 
of a good meal, and is of a very brutal character. A 
number of suspected persons are shut up, without cere- 
mony, in a hut, where there is scarcely room to move : 
a pitiless magician places himself at the door, having his 
mouth full of a fat liquid, and a piece of lighted w r ood in 
his hand; he blows with all his might — the fat, coming 
into contact with the burning stick, takes fire, and, fol- 
lowing the impulse given it by lungs worthy of iEolus, 
falls where it can — where it ought, say the Basutos: 
they have not the smallest doubt that he who is most 
severely burnt is the delinquent. 

The reader, justly alarmed at a new paragraph, will, 
perhaps, ask if it is possible for even dark-skinned magi- 
cians to surpass the absurdities we have just enumerated. 
Alas ! it is, indeed. We have not yet touched upon the 
most sublime of all their pretensions. What would the 
burning clime of Africa do without rain-makers ? Let 
not this ridiculous title provoke a smile — it ought rather 
to remind the privileged inhabitants of Europe that there 
are under other skies sufferings of which they can form 
no idea, and that there He who is a refuge from the 
storm and a shadow from the heat is unknown. Moses, 
in enumerating the curses which should fall upon the 
Israelites if they did not obey the voice of the Lord, 
uttered these terrible words: " The Lord shall make 
the rain of thy land powder and dust; from heaven 
shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed!" 
It is only in Africa that these words can be rightly 
understood. When, after a long drought, the whole 



296 THE BASUTOS. 

creation seems to have reached that state of hopeless 
prostration which follows the delirium of thirst, large 
clouds appear on the horizon, panting nature seems 
ready to utter a cry of distress ; the plants that are not 
entirely burnt up by the sun, and which make a last 
effort to lift up their shrivelled stems — the cracked 
soil, which the gathering shadow now hides from the 
parching heat — the bird which, from the dried-up bed 
of the torrent, alights on the greyish thorn of the 
mimosa — the antelope, which rises, panting, from be- 
neath a screen of rushes, and looks towards the horizon 
with dilated nostrils — all seem to cry out, " Descend! 
descend ! oh, gentle and refreshing drops ! " The 
clouds advance; but soon their reddish tint, and the 
earthy odour that pervades the atmosphere, announce 
a new scourge. Clouds of sand and dust have shot 
up from the desert, in eddying columns, to the sky, 
and a furious wind drives before it these burning par- 
ticles, scattering them everywhere without mercy. The 
aerial torrent rolls on, uninterruptedly, for hours, and 
sometimes for whole days. The best-closed habitations 
are not proof against its invasion. Even in his safest 
retreats man finds himself assailed by imperceptible 
atoms, which obscure his sight, stop up his ears and 
nostrils, adhere to his skin, and even cause the food 
he eats to crackle between his teeth. 

Set up altars for a people subject to such visitations! 
In their ignorance they apply to the most powerful 
beings they know. They flock around their chief and 
cry, " Give us rain ! Give us rain ! " as Egypt demanded 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 297 

bread of Pharaoh. The chiefs, in order not to appear 
indifferent to these cruel sufferings, call the diviners to 
their aid and load them with presents. 

The rain-makers are in no great repute among 
the Basufcos and Caffres, who do not suffer from 
drought. 

Medicine is entirely in the hands of the Engakas. 
We have already observed that disease is universally 
attributed to the direct influence of ancestors, or to that 
of witchcraft. Hence it necessarily arises, that the cure 
should be entrusted to the men who have access to the 
sources whence the evil proceeds. These quack-doctors 
are not unacquainted with a few simples which produce 
beneficial effects. They have their emetics, their pur- 
gatives, their sudorifics, and their composing draughts. 
The quantity of medicine they make their patients drink 
exceeds all belief. These infusions sometimes owe their 
principal virtues to the most singular combinations. 

I remember once to have incurred the displeasure of 
a famous doctor by taking liberties with the pot in which 
a certain mixture of herbs and roots was boiling at a 
furious rate. I had, in my simplicity, taken an especial 
fancy to a cock's feather, which from time to time ap- 
peared on the surface. " What are you going to do?" 
cried this African Hippocrates ; " my decoction will be 
good for nothing without that feather." These prac- 
titioners are unacquainted with phlebotomy, but they 
often have recourse to a process which is equivalent 
to the. application of leeches. They make a tolerably 
deep incision in the skin, then placing over the cut a 



298 THE BASUTOS. 

small antelope-horn open at both ends, which serves as a 
cupping-glass, they exhaust the air by using their lungs 
pretty freely, and with a little patience manage to 
extract a considerable quantity of blood. They also 
know the use of the clyster, and often have recourse to 
it, especially for children. Not possessing the smallest 
notion of anatomy, they are very timid as regards sur- 
gical operations. Instead of removing tumours and wens, 
they merely scarify them, and endeavour to reduce them 
by detersive external applications. In extreme cases, 
where life is in danger, they venture to sew together the 
edges of a wound, and to set a fractured limb as well as 
they can. But, generally speaking, surgical cases are 
entrusted to certain individuals known in the commu- 
nity for their skill and courage, rather than to the 
healers by profession. 

Like their brethren in all countries, the Bechuana 
and Caffre doctors speculate advantageously upon the 
terrors inspired by death. While the malady lasts they 
order frequent sacrifices, and appropriate to themselves 
the prime pieces of the victims offered to the infernal 
gods. Later, whatever may have been the termination 
of the disease, they are entitled to receive living offerings, 
which serve to increase their already numerous flocks. 
In addition to this, they are well paid, and still better 
served by young apprentices, who accompany them 
everywhere. These candidates for the medical profes- 
sion, witnessing the rapid growth of the fortune of their 
patrons, bear with patience the tedium of a long appren- 
ticeship. They may often be seen bending under the 



AMULETS — SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES. 299 

weight of an enormous quarter of an ox, which they 
are carrying from a dying man's dwelling. They 
are also employed in carrying from one village to 
another the medicines of their masters, inclosed in a 
number of little horns, which answer the same purpose 
as our phials. 



300 



CHAPTER XV. 

MORAL IDEAS. 

The same faithful and compassionate God who sus- 
tains the physical existence of the vilest idolaters, has 
watched with no less solicitude that moral life should 
not become entirely extinct among them. As He sends 
His sun and rain to fertilise the fields placed under the 
protection of false gods, in like manner His finger finds 
a corner in their benighted hearts, to trace His law in 
indelible characters. The only grand point of difference 
which exists upon this subject between these people and 
those who enjoy the light of revelation is, that to the 
former the perception of good and evil is an inexplicable 
phenomenon as to its origin and its final results. It is 
true that this one point implies a very great difference, 
not only in the practice, but also in the appreciation of 
morality itself. Thus the Caffre or Mochuana who has an 
evil thought knows perfectly well that the thought is 
evil, but I do not think it causes him the least uneasiness, 
as long as it does not manifest itself openly. It may 
even be doubted whether they feel any great compunc- 
tion in consequence of an act of immorality, which is in 
no way injurious to their interest "or their reputation. 



MORAL IDEAS. 301 

They do not hide from themselves that they have done 
wrong, that the thing in itself is condemnable, but the 
uneasiness resulting from it is of no very definite cha- 
racter ; for, as we know, man very easily forgives him- 
self. To expect more than this would be to suppose 
them under the influence of secret terror, inspired by the 
idea of superhuman justice. Now we have seen that 
their creed implies nothing of the kind. They have con- 
sciences, their thoughts excuse or accuse each other, but 
as long as the God of the Bible is unknown to them, this 
conscience is nothing more than an importunate voice, to 
which they only attend when compelled by their temporal 
interests to do so. 

Providence has employed, for the protection of moral 
feeling, another instinct, which is fully developed among 
these people- — that of sociability. A person living in their 
midst, and discovering the extreme weakness of all 
repressive measures, the facility with which crime 
leagues with power, would question whether he could 
without temerity remain a day longer among a people, 
in a measure left to themselves, who have neither prison 
nor gallows to fear. But experience soon calms this 
feeling of uneasiness. On recapitulating his impressions 
and recollections at the end of a certain time, he is sur- 
prised to find that cases of murder have been very rare, 
that perfect safety has been enjoyed on roads, where the 
traveller might have been robbed a hundred times over 
without the least hope of aid, and in houses where the 
doors and windows have neither bolts nor bars. In 
these comparatively small communities, which are con- 



302 THE BASUTOS. 

stantly exposed to breaking up, each one feels himself 
inwardly called upon to watch over the maintenance of a 
certain exterior morality. The heart is deeply corrupt, 
but the language is generally decent; vice reigns, but 
it is more hidden than might be supposed. The liberty 
these people enjoy, the facility with which they can 
secretly satisfy their natural inclinations, their total 
ignorance of factitious wants, the charm they find in the 
conversation, the recitals, and the lively sallies which 
constitute the basis of their social life, all prompt them 
to a much greater observance of decorum than we might 
have expected to find where vice is not attended with 
infamy. Living in closer intercourse with nature than 
we do, they have also learnt better than we have how to 
submit their will to hers. They will endure acute suf- 
fering without a groan or a murmur. Hunger, thirst, 
fatigue, when they are inevitable, do not alter their 
serenity. The overflowing of a river detains them cap- 
tives for whole weeks, and their patience does not give 
way. This severe and daily discipline is not without its 
effect on the character. It subdues the will, accustoms 
man to bend, to wait, and to restrain his animal pas- 
sions. I have seen very dissolute young men completely 
changed after entering our service, and, apparently 
almost without effort, lead the most regular life for 
years. Persons who have long been accustomed to the 
use of tobacco or fermented liquors are frequently seen 
to renounce these habits at once, and without seeming to 
find any difficulty in so doing. 

Morality among these people depends so entirely 



MOKAL IDEAS. 303 

upon social order, that all political disorganisation is 
immediately followed by a state of degeneracy, which the 
re-establishment of order alone can rectify. Thus, in 
the mountains of Lesuto and Natal we have seen tribes, 
of gentle and humane habits, plunge into all the horrors 
of cannibalism during a season of universal confusion; 
and simultaneously, and almost spontaneously, abandon 
this kind of life as soon as a good and wise chief sets 
about reconstructing the social edifice. The sudden and 
premature introduction of new laws and customs, and 
the imposition of a strange authority, are, for the same 
reason, equally fatal to their moral character. They rob 
the native of the only motive he can have for mode- 
rating his passions, which is the desire to maintain 
entire the order of things, in which are summed up all 
his ideas of prosperity and decency. Christianity alone 
can venture safely to pull down the ancient scaffolding. 
It erects the everlasting columns of truth in the place of 
the feeble props it destroys. 

The external appearances of moderation and decency 
constitute in the eyes of the natives what they call botu 3 
the title or dignity of man, in opposition to bopofolo, the 
brute life; a name they apply to every immoral act of an 
excessively scandalous nature. 

The nomenclature of the vices which afflict humanity 
is quite as complete in the languages spoken in Africa as 
in our own. That of the virtues is much less so. To 
assert the existence of evil, and to stigmatise it by dis- 
tinct appellations, was a great step for a people deprived 
of the light of revelation. It will not be a matter of 



304 THE BASUTOS. 

astonishment, that the impressions produced by moral 
defeat have been stronger and more various than those 
resulting from the triumphs which, alas ! so rarely 
occurred. 

The idea of moral evil is represented in Sesuto by 
1. that of ugliness (bobe, mashoe) ; 2. of damage, or deterio- 
ration (sebe); 3. of a fault, or a debt (molatu); 4. of in- 
capacity (tsito). These definitions complete each other 
admirably. The first shows the essence of evil, and 
condemns it: it is ugly, disagreeable, odious in itself. 
The second and third show its natural and certain 
effects : it spoils, destroys ; it is a debt, a failure ; it de- 
mands reparation. The fourth explains its cause, the 
weakness of man left to his own resources. Any one of 
these terms is sufficient to express the idea of evil ; but 
persons who study to speak well are careful to observe 
the shade of meaning which is peculiar to each of them. 

The idea of theft is expressed by a generic word 
which refers to the violation of right, much more than to 
the damage caused. Thus, however frequent this evil 
may be among the natives, it is unnecessary to prove to 
them that a man is guilty, although he steals an object 
of but small value. 

Their language does not make a very marked dif- 
ference between fornication and adultery. All illegal 
connexion between the two sexes is generally expressed 
by the same word. 

However, in all that relates to this kind of vice, the 
Bechuanas prefer having recourse to circumlocutions. 

The Sechuana word that we translate by lie may 



MORAL IDEAS. 305 

equally signify involuntary error, or premeditated false- 
hood; although the latter is the predominant significa- 
tion. The language also possesses another word, which 
applies exclusively to the intention of deceiving. 

Calumny, slander, invectives, and oaths, have their 
proper and distinguishing names. The frequency of 
these sins, and the facility with which man falls into 
them, have suggested to the natives two excellent pro- 
verbs: — " There are bonds for everything except the 
tongue." — " The tongue cannot be corrected." 

Oaths only appear to them to be deserving of censure 
when used in confirming a falsehood. All the natives 
are great swearers ; but it must be observed that the 
forms they use rarely bear the character of impreca- 
tion: they are generally oaths uttered lightly, and with- 
out reflection. The native generally swears by his 
chief (ka morena), by his father or mother, by the per- 
son to whom he speaks, or by the truth. The chief 
of the Basutos, on important occasions, swears by his 
eldest sister, Mamila. It is a delicate homage to the 
rights which w T ere hers by birth, but which her sex 
did not allow her to enjoy. 

Imprecation is an almost unpardonable offence: it 
is looked upon as the presage, if not the direct cause, 
of the greatest misfortunes. The dreadful consequences 
that the curse of Noah has had for Ham and his de- 
scendants appear quite natural to these people. 

Pride is expressed by two words: one of which 
signifies to be puffed up, to swell; and the other to 
make one's self bright These terms only refer to the 

x 



306 fHE BASUTOS. 

outward manifestation of the fault. It does not appear 
that the disapproval of the natives extends to the 
principle. 

Covetousness has its distinct designation. These 
people fully acknowledge its dreadful power, and seem 
to have instituted an axiom that it is impossible to im- 
pose silence upon the unruly desires of the heart. I 
remember, a short time after our arrival in Lesuto, 
a chief, trying to enumerate the Ten Commandments, 
could only find nine. We reminded him of the tenth : 
% Thou shalt not covet." " That is not a separate com- 
mandment," replied he ; " I have already reckoned it 
in saying ' thou shalt not steal ; thou shalt not commit 
adultery.' " Thus the conscience of a heathen revealed 
to him what Jesus Christ was obliged to explain to the 
scribes and pharisees of old. 

Among all the virtues, that which the natives most 
appreciate, is kindness. They had words to express 
liberality, gratitude, courage, prudence, veracity, patience ; 
but their vocabulary offered but very vague terms to ex- 
press the ideas of self-denial, temperance, and humility. 
We were obliged to dive into the depths of their lan- 
guage for precise denominations for these virtues, where 
we found them without difficulty. 

The proverb, being a spontaneous production of 
public reason and conscience, is of inestimable value, as 
it enables us to judge in what manner, and to what 
degree, barbarous races have occupied themselves with 
moral principles. The Basutos have been particularly 
successful in this kind of composition. They have in 



MOKAL IDEAS. 307 

daily use concise maxims, easy of comprehension and of 
undisputed authority. The language, from its ener- 
getic precision, is admirably adapted to the sententious 
style, and the element of metaphor has entered so abun- 
dantly into its composition, that one can hardly speak 
it without unconsciously acquiring the habit of ex- 
pressing one's thoughts in a figurative manner. 

The following are some of the proverbs in most 
frequent use: — 

1. " Cunning devours its master." Solomon has 
said, " Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein." 

2. " There is blood in the dregs." A lesson of 
temperance. The Bechuanas are passionately fond of 
a kind of beer, of their own making, which they serve 
up in vessels without clarifying it. The proverb im- 
plies that " those who drink immoderately, and empty 
the vessel to the dregs, will certainly become intoxi- 
cated, and their orgies will end in bloody quarrels." 
Solomon says, w Strong drink is raging." 

3. u One falls with one's shadow." A lesson for 
vain persons, who, while they admire their shadow, for- 
get to look to their feet, and fall into a pit. 

4. "The point of the needle must pass first." Be 
straightforward in your discourse ; do not disguise truth 
by evasive words. 

5. "All countries are frontiers." A warning to dis- 
contented people, who are never satisfied wherever they 
are. The frontiers being those parts of the country 
that are most exposed to danger, this proverb implies : 



308 THE BASUT0S. 

u Wherever you go, you will be surrounded by dangers 
and disagreeables." 

6. " Water is never weary of flowing." A reproof 
to chatterers. 

7. H To-morrow will give birth to the day after to- 
morrow." An admonition to those who defer the per- 
formance of a duty. 

8. " The knife and the meat cannot be long to- 
gether." A precept against adultery. Solomon says 
in the same sense, sc Can a man take fire in his bosom, 
and his clothes not be burned?" 

9. " Hunger is hidden under the sacks." A censure 
addressed to those who are proud of their abundance, 
and who insult the poverty of others. 

10. " Scoffing and destruction go hand in hand." 

11. " The hare browses by the side of the dog." 

12. " One may be drowned in a river, the water of 
which does not appear knee-deep." Do not be deceived 
by fine appearances. Distrust is salutary. 

13. " One cannot play with a serpent with im- 
punity." The danger of temptation to eviL 

14. " Lions growl over their food." Words applied 
to persons of fretful temper, who enjoy nothing them- 
selves, and leave no one in peace. 

15. "Harness is never tired." There is no end to 
travelling. 

16. u The old bowl always smells of the milk." We 
say in English, " What is bred in the bone will never 
come out of the flesh." 



MORAL IDEAS. 309 

17. "The trap catches the large bird as well as the 
small one." All are exposed to the vicissitudes of for- 
tune." 

18. " As one goes, so one returns." The character 
does not change. Horace has said, " Ccelum, non ani- 
mum, mutant qui trans mare currunt" 

19. " The thief catches himself." The power of 
conscience is so great that it forces the thief to accuse 
himself and incur the punishment due to his crime. 

20. " Stolen goods do not cause to increase." 

21. " The ungrateful child is death to the bowels of 
his father." 

22. " The fat of ill-gotten wealth causes death." 

23. " Hunger brings the crocodile out of the 
water." We say, " Hunger will break through stone 
walls." 

24. " Human blood is heavy, it prevents him who 
has shed it from running away." 

25. " The murderer says, I have only killed a 
beast ; but the smooth-skinned animal does not perish 
without being avenged." 

26. "If a man has been killed secretly, the straws 
of the field will tell it." 

27. " Anger is stubble which kindles spontaneously." 

28. " Reason has no age." 

29. " Quails make their nests in the garden of the 
slothful." 

30. " Seed-time is the time of head-ache." The 
slothful man saith, " There is a lion in the way." 

31. u One does not skin one's game without showing 



310 THE BASUTOS. 

it to one's friends." When we have been successful in 
our undertakings it becomes us to be generous. 

32. " The knife that is lent does not return alone to 
its master." A kindness is never thrown away. 

33. "Death does not know kings." "Pallida mors 
cequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas regumque turres" 
(Horace.) 

34. " New waters drive the old waters before them." 
The generations of mankind succeed each other without 
interruption. 

35. u The most abundant springs may dry up." A 
warning to the rich. 

36. " Want dwells in the house of the wrangler." 

37. " The flatterer deceives his master while he 
tickles his neck." 

38. "A good prince lights the fire for his people." 

39. " Two dogs do not let a fox escape." Union is 
strength. 

40. u Two mouths strike (correct) each other." 
Truth springs from the clashing of opinions* 

41. " Wealth is a fog which is soon dispersed." 

42. " The thief eats thunder-bolts." The criminal 
means he employs for his support will draw down upon 
him certain vengeance. 

43. " Perseverance always triumphs." " Labor 
omnia vincit improbus" (Horace.) 

44. " The miser is a thief." 

45. u He is not pitied who brings the evil upon 
himself." 

46. " A good name causes one to sleep well." 



MORAL IDEAS. 3 1 1 

47. " The young of man is slow of growth." 

48. w The road is king." Travellers are not be 
molested. 

49. " One should not lean over a gulf." It is wrong 
to expose one's self to great dangers. 

50. " You have let a mouse grow in your calabash." 
Your kindness has been repaid with ingratitude. 

51. " One link only sounds because of another." 
The natives wear little chains, which act as bells, 
This proverb implies, that we cannot do without the 
help of our fellow-creatures. 

These excellent maxims are not always confined to 
mere theory. But in all that concerns the moral 
condition of these people we must beware of the 
irresistible impulse to generalise, which, in this age of 
strife and action, has taken possession of us, to a degree 
which was unknown to the more patient reasoning of 
our fathers. Some touching incident reaches our ears 
from the heart of the desert. One or two anecdotes 
are related, which serve to bring out whatever there 
may be of a naive, graceful, or poetical nature in the 
manners and customs of these tribes, who are still in 
their infancy, and the imagination }f the reader takes 
fire, and immediately conjures up scenes of the golden 
age, in regions which are justly said by the inspired 
word to be the dark places of the earth. Happy w r ill be 
the narrator, if some disciple of Rousseau, some neigh- 
bour sick of civilisation, or some extravagant Socialist 
who dreams of a new Arcadia, do not take hold of his 
words, and find in them conclusive evidence that nations, 



312 THE BASUTOS. 

who are called heathen or savage, are a thousand times 
better than ourselves. This conclusion is as far from 
being just as that to which cupidity leads some colonists, 
who, always armed with their carbines, only look upon 
these tribes, whose lands they covet as a number of 
brigands, from which the w r orld cannot be too soon 
delivered. 

In all that relates to the human heart, whether it 
beats under a white or a black skin, we must acknow- 
ledge the truth of the declaration of the Sovereign Judge 
concerning it. He has pronounced it to be desperately 
wicked, inexplicable, incomprehensible. Everywhere fallen, 
everywhere the slave of his passions, man is also capable 
of performing, under certain influences, acts worthy of 
the praise and admiration of his fellow-creatures. In 
like manner a vessel, the rudder of which has been 
carried away by the storm, may appear, in a moment 
of calm, and impelled by a favourable breeze, to be 
nearing the haven amid the acclamations of numerous 
spectators, who will soon be sadly employed in gathering 
up the fragments of its wreck. 



313 



CHAPTER XVI. 



LANGUAGE. 



It is not our intention to enter into the details of gram- 
mar, which would have little interest for the greater 
part of our readers; but we should consider our work 
incomplete, if we did not give a general idea of the 
structure of the languages spoken by the people whose 
manners we have described. 

These languages seem to prove that, at a more or 
less remote period of their history, the Bechuanas and 
the Caffres were more enlightened than they now are, 
and possessed institutions superior to those observed 
among them at the present day. We find nothing of 
a savage nature, when we seek the reflection of their 
thoughts and feeling in the vocabulary and grammar 
of their respective idioms ; which, if they do not dis- 
play a degree of civilisation similar to our own, may, 
without hesitation, be said to reproduce that of the 
patriarchal era. 

1. The language of the Basutos, and of all the other 
branches of the large family of the Bechuanas, is gene- 



314 THE BASUTOS. 

rally known under the name of Sechuana* It is iden- 
tical with the Caffre in its origin and its structure. 
The differences in the words are considerable ; at least, 
quite as great as those existing between French and 
Spanish. But an attentive study soon shows that these 
dissimilarities are very often the result of certain changes 
of letters, subject to strict rules, and only caused by the 
greater or less degree of favour enjoyed by certain 
sounds on one side or the other of the Qnatlambas. 
If to love is rendered by "rata" on the western side of 
these mountains, and by " tanda" on the eastern side, 
it is because the Caffre cannot bear the r, and inva- 
riably replaces it by t or d. The Bechuanas prefer 
the consonants I and r to z 9 of which their neighbours 
are passionately fond ; hence lipuli, goats, instead of 
zipuzi, &c. 

2. We find Sechuana and Caffre words in nearly 
all the languages spoken between the tropic of Capricorn 
and the Equator. The reader will be able to judge of 
the nature of the affinity by the comparative table here 
adjoined. 

The inspection of an unedited dictionary of the lan- 
guage of Anzouan authorises us to assert, that one- 
tenth of the words in daily use among the Comoro 
islanders are either Sechuana or Caffre. 

* There is a considerable difference in the dialect of the tribes 
of the north and those of the south. 



LANGUAGE. 



315 



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316 



THE BASUTOS. 



3. We meet with words in the Sechuana tongue 
which seem to be of Hebrew origin. . The following are 
of this class : — 



English. 


Sechuana. 


Hebrew. 
English Pronunciation, 


Antelope. 


Tsepe. 


*y& Tsebi. 


Truth. 


Amanite. 


ptf Amen. 


Children. 


Bana. 


*JD Bene. 


Father. 


Hara. 


mm (Genitor) Horeh. 


Voice. 


Kolou. 


Sip Kol. 


Marrow. 


Mokho. 


HO Moach. 


Wool. 


Romo. 


HOI Romah. 


To execrate. 


Rora. 


-m Arar. 


Who. 


Mang. 


to Man. 


To swear, to attest. 


Ana. 


nty Anah. 


To see. 


Bona. 


pn (Cernere) Boun. 


To shut. 


Kuala. 


&Ao Kala. v 


Serpent. 


Noha 


wru Nahash. 


To weep, to cry. 


Lei a 


SS> Jalal. 


To cook. 


Apea. 


tfktf Apa. 


To repent. 


Baka. 


HDD (Flere de) Bakah. 


To fall. 


Oua. 


mn (Casus) Ouah. 


High place. 


Pahama. 


HD3 Bamah. 


Riches, abundance. 


Nala. 


nS: (Acquirere) Nalah. 


To cross. 


Tsela. 


rh* Tsalah. 


To hope. 


Tsepa. 


TOX Tsapah. 


To flow. 


Palala. 


bbi (Fudit) Balal. 


To return, to come in. 


Boea. 


W3 (Intrare domum) Bo. 


To withdraw. 


Suta. 


m& Sout. 


To laugh. 


Tseha. 


pTO Tsahak. 



LANGUAGE. 



317 



English. 


Sechtjana. 


Hebeew. 
Englsih Pronunciation. 


To warm one's 


self. 


Ora. 


Tltf (Flamma) Oar. 


To brood, to cover. 


Alama. 


HD 1 ?!? (Cacher) Alam. 


Help. 




Thuso. 


Hytrin Thusiah. 


To absorb. 




Metsa. 


roo Matsah. 


Horn. 




Naka. 


roJ (Transfodere) Nakab. 


To disapprove. 




Niatsa. 


n^J (Rixari) Natsa. 


Me. 




'Na. 


n\jk Ana. 


To burn. 




Hisha. 


ty» {Ignis) Esch. 


To be roused. 




Tsuha. 


#1? Zouah. 


To desist. 




Khatala. 


hin Khadal. 


To sink (in the 


water). 


Teba. 


WE Tabah. 


To cut in two. 




Khaotsa. 


rft.H Khatsah. 



We might further notice, as bearing resemblance to 
the Hebrew, the forms of the verbs, the suffixing pro- 
nouns, the frequent use of the noun as adjective, and of 
the verb as adverb, the manner in which the compara- 
tive and superlative are formed, and several interesting 
idioms : except in these points of resemblance, the 
Sechuana language has very little affinity with the 
Semitic languages. 

4. It is extremely rich in onomatopoeia. The idea 
of violent separation is represented by a very guttural 
G : gagoga, torn ; gela, sega, to cut. 

The movements of aerial bodies are represented by 
f: fofa, to fly; foka, to blow ; fefola, to carry away, in 
speaking of the wind. 

S and ts remind us of the noise of the legs and arms 



318 



THE BASUTOS. 



in walking and swimming ; tsamaea, to walk ; tsela, to 
cross ; tsisinya, to shake ; sesa, to swim. 

The movement of the lips in speaking is expressed 
by b and p : Bua, to speak ; puo, discourse ; bobola, to 
complain in suffering ; bala, to count ; bina, to sing ; 
botsa, to ask. 

T, th, and k, express hardness, strength, and violence : 
thata, hard; tua, to pound; tea, to strike; tao, lion; 
kokota, to nail. 

L and r abound in the words which express the idea 
of fluidity : elela, to flow ; rothela, to fall drop by drop ; 
lela, to weep ; leseli, light ; relela, to glide, &c. 

5. Metaphor has greatly contributed to enrich this 
language. Some of the figures in daily use among the 
Basutos are as remarkable for their delicacy as for their 
novelty ; while we are agreeably surprised to meet with 
others somewhat similar to those of our European lan- 
guages, showing that the human mind, everywhere the 
same, is guided in its operations by a natural logic, the 
principles of which are unchanged by the varieties of 
race and climate. The following table will not, perhaps, 
be found altogether devoid of interest : — 



Sechuana 


Words. 


LiterauMean 


ING. 


Figurative Meaning. 


Tsela. 




To cross over. 




To live. 


FaUa. 




To change one's 


abode. 


To die. 


Shua. 




To be broken. 




Id. 


Oroga. 




To return home. 




Id. 


Emela. 




To rise for. 




To defend the cause of. 


Lesika. 




Thread. 




Family. 



LANGUAGE. 



319 



Sechuana Words. 


Literal Meaning. 


Figurative Meaning. 


Bofifi. 


Darkness. 


Mourning. 


Khopo. 


Crooked. 


Unjust. 


Luka. 


To be straight. 


To be just. 


Tekanyo. 


Measure. 


Sobriety. 


Bogale. 


Sharp, cutting. 


Anger. 


Selemo. 


Seed-time. 


Year. 


Metlala. 


Footsteps. 


Example. 


Bekologa. 


To unbend. 


To have compassion. 


Fatloa. 


To have dust in the eye. 


To take offence. 


Tlong. 


Hedgehog. 


Shame. 


Tlola. 


To leap over. 


To transgress. 


Omella. 


To be dried up. 


To be reduced to extremity. 


Metsa mathe. 


To swallow one's saliva. 


To take courage. 


Khaoga. 


To be torn. 


To have pity. 


Tlogo e mouneng. 


Thick-head. 


Fool. 


Ntsintsi. 


Fly. 


Parasite. 


Tsie. 


Locust. 


Intruder. 


Litlasi. 


Sparks. 


Contagion. 


Tsetlo. 


Thorn. 


Unlucky man. 


Pelu e tsetla. 


Yellow heart. 


Jealousy. 


Busa. 


To bring back. 


To govern. 


Nepa. 


To hit the object. 


To reason rightly. 


Bapa. 


To be parallel. 


To agree. 


Letlokoa. 


A straw. 


Vanity. 


Moea. 


Wind. 


Universal enthusiasm. 


Telia. 


To slip. 


To commit a fault. 


Kocha. 


To stumble. 


Id. [one's self. 


Inyeka. 


To lick one's self. 


To speak advantageously of 


Pelu ea ithata. 


My heart loves itself. 


I am happy. 



This last figure, perhaps the most striking of all, is 
founded upon the very philosophical idea that the secret 
approbation of the conscience is an essential element of 
true happiness. The reader will also have remarked 
t se l a — which means literally, to pass over a river, a 



320 THE BASUTOS. 

nam and, at the same time, striking image of life — and 
oroga, to return home ; falla, to depart, to emigrate : 
synonymous metaphors, signifying to die ; which prove 
how familiar these people were with the idea of immor- 
tality. 

6. The Sechuana vocabulary is rich in individual 
names. The Mosuto has ten words at his disposal to 
signify a horned animal ; he has appropriated a distinct 
word to each of the different combinations of colour 
which he may have remarked in his motley flocks and 
herds. He has one word to express the generic idea of 
man (homo), and another to express that of man con- 
sidered with regard to his sex (yir). He also distin- 
guishes between the earth taken as a whole, a globe 
(terra), and the earth considered as matter (humus). He 
has five different words to express the word day, con- 
sidered as a period of twelve hours, or as an interval of 
light, or as an epoch, &c. 

Among the words denoting abstract ideas of the 
mind, those which express the qualities of objects or 
actions, as considered in themselves, are very familiar to 
the Bechuanas. They have the words greatness, ease, 
beauty, goodness, &c. It is easily understood, that as 
these words express the qualities of material and sensible 
objects, they would be the necessary result of the obser- 
vation of the objects themselves in their primitive condi- 
tion, or in the modifications and accidents to which they 
are liable. 

Those words which express the sensations and actions 
of the soul, exist chiefly in the form of verbs. Never- 



LANGUAGE. 321 

theless, in cases of necessity, the verb changes into a 
substantive in the easiest manner, and by a very logical 
process. As the idea assumes more substance and be- 
comes condensed, so the sound, by which it is to be 
represented in its new form, becomes harder and more 
accentuated: hopola, to think; khopolo, thought; bala, 
to reflect ; pah, reflection ; utlua, to understand ; hutluo, 
intelligence. 

As regards metaphysical and religious expressions, 
the language of the Basutos has furnished all those re- 
quired in the literal translation of the New Testament. 
They were already in existence, or have been easily 
found in the groundwork of the language. The idea of 
holiness, distinct from purity, was more difficult to render 
than any other. 

7. The Sechuana and Caffre languages present an 
interesting peculiarity, and one so highly characteristic, 
that it may serve as a method of classification for these 
languages, and all those which are allied with them. 
Every substantive is composed of an invariable root and 
a prefix, which is subject to variation : thus in mosali, 
woman, we have the prefix mo and the root soli; in 
lebitso, name, the prefix le and the root bitso, &c. 

These prefixes in the Sechuana are eight in number; 
there are more of them in the Caffre. 

The change of the prefix, which is subject to certain 
rules, serves to distinguish the plural from the singular. 
Mo changes to ba, le to ma, &c. Thus mosali, woman, 
becomes 6asali in the plural, and Zebitso, mabitso, &c. 

These cause all the parts of a phrase to harmonise in 

T 



322 THE BASUTOS. 

a manner which is agreeable to the ear and very fa- 
vourable to perspicuity. The prefix of the subject 
attaches itself to all the words which are connected with 
it; it is like a little cockade, which distinguishes the 
principal noun, and which it gives as a badge of dis- 
tinction to all its dependants. Thus, in translating the 
phrase, " All the virtuous men in the w r orld are loved," 
the subject is BAtu, men ; and we shall have BAtu, BAotle, 
BAmolemo, BAlefatse, BAratoa. The prefix ba of batu, 
has passed on to the adjectives otle, all, molemo, good, to 
the preposition oa, of, which it has changed to ba, and, 
lastly, to the pronoun they, which, for the same reason, 
has become ba also. 

It appears that this peculiarity also exists in the lan- 
guages of Congo, in those of the Comoro Isles, and in 
Suaeli. I see that in Mogialoa (one of the dialects of 
Congo), twenty is rendered by macugni maiari ; 
fifty by macugni matano : these are real phrases, in 
which the influence of the prefix is felt as it is in the 
corresponding expressions in Sechuana : mashume a 
maberi ; mashume a matlano. In reality, macugni matano 
literally signifies ten-fives ; cugni, ten, being the subject, 
and tano, five, the attribute : and therefore the prefix ma 
of cugni has passed on to tano. 

A third property of these prefixes, and that which 
is the most remarkable, is to modify and extend the 
meaning of the roots. Thus, by adding by turns to 
the root tu, which represents the general idea of man, 
the prefixes mo, bo, se, le, we get motu, the man (the 
individual) ; botu, humanity, the quality, the title of 



LANGUAGE. 323 

man; setu, human language; letu, the habitation of 
men, the world. Proceed in the same manner with 
the word suto, which represents the people whom we 
have introduced to our readers, and you will have 
Mosuto, a Mosuto (plural, Basuto) ; bosuto, the charac- 
ter, the quality of a Mosuto ; Lesuto, the land of the 
Mosuto; Sesuto, the language of the Mosuto. 

9. In no other language does the verb merit the 
name of word par excellence, as it does in the Sechuana. 
It is there presented to us in a variety of forms and a 
richness of development which are really surprising. 

Almost all the roots of verbs are capable of passing 
through four distinct forms, each of which has five 
voices. Let us take, for instance, the word Hata 3 to 
love: — 

FIRST SPECIES, STYLED EFFICIENT. 

Active voice. Eata. To love. 

Passive voice. Eatoa. To be loved. 

Eeflective voice. Ithata. To love one's self. 

Eeciprocal voice. Eatana. To love one another. 
Superlative, or •) . . _ 

Intensive voice. } Ratlslsa - To love ver ? mucK 

SECOND SPECIES, STYLED CAUSATIVE. 

Active voice. Eatisa. To cause to love. 

Passive voice. Eatisoa. To be induced to love. 

Eeflective voice. Ithatisa. To make one's self love. 

Eeciprocal voice. Eatisana. To be induced to love one another. 

THIRD SPECIES, STYLED RELATIVE. 

Active voice. Eatela. To love for, or for the purpose of. 

Passive voice. Eateloa. To be loved for. 

Eeflective voice. Ithatela. To love for one's self. 

Eeciprocal voice. Eatelana. To love each other for. 



324 THE BASUTOS. 

FOURTH SPECIES, STYLED QUALIFICATIVE. 

Neuter voice. Ratega. To be lovable ; or, to be univer- 

sally beloved. 

These forms generally give rise to as many corre- 
sponding substantives, and thus become a mine of valu- 
able words. Thus, in addition to thato, love, the Basu- 
tos have boithato, self-love; ihatano, reciprocal or fra- 
ternal love; thatiso, the act of making one's self love, or 
the attraction ; boithatelo, the act of loving for one's self, 
or independent and optional love; thatego, amability; 
thatisiso, a great degree of love. 

If the Sechuana and Caffre verbs bear some resem- 
blance to those of the Semitic languages as regards the 
voices, they are far removed from them in their mode 
of conjugation. This is performed by the help of pro- 
nouns : the change of persons does not cause any change 
of termination. The present and the perfect of the 
indicative, the present of the subjunctive, and the par- 
ticiple, are formed by the change of the last vowel of 
the root (kia rata, I love; ki ratile, I have loved; ki 
rate, that I may love; ratan^r, loving). The future is 
composed of the root and of the verb thla, to come, 
employed as auxiliary, as shall and will in the English 
language (ki thfa rata, I shall love). The infinitive is 
a compound mood: it is formed with the help of a 
participle corresponding to to, te, zu of the Germanic 
languages — go rata (to love). The simplicity of the 
process by which the passive is formed from the active 
is worthy of remark. This change is effected in all the 



LANGUAGE. 325 

moods and tenses by placing an o before the final 
vowel — rata, to love ; ratoa, to be loved, &c. 

10. The Sechuana tongue is richer in conjunctions 
than might be expected in an uncultivated language. 

There are two distinct copulatives : one (me) serves 
to connect phrases, and the other (le) to connect words. 
The conjunctions but, if, through, although, nevertheless, 
when, as, because, so that, in short, whilst, then, therefore, 
still, also, even, are as familiar to the Bechuanas as 
they are to ourselves. 

The infinitive of the verb substantive, to be, supplies 
the place of our conjunction, that, in discourse. Ex. : 
Kia lumela goba oa'nthata, " I believe to be (that) he 
loves me ; " Oa gopola goba hi mo pumile, " He thinks 
to be (that) I have deceived him." It is easy to 
account for this peculiarity, which may, at first sight, 
appear singular: the that, which we use to connect 
one verb with another, informs the mind of the exist- 
ence of a fact not yet expressed, but which will be 
expressed immediately; does not the verb substantive 
seem to be more adapted to such a purpose than a con- 
junction, the value of which is purely conventional ? 

It has been said of that, that from the time it entered 
into his discourse the child-man became adult. Per- 
haps, by slightly extending this observation, we might 
say that we can, to a certain degree, judge of the 
intellectual condition of a people by the conjunctions 
of their language. As they serve to express the dif- 
ferent shades of thought, their number must necessarily 
be in proportion to the degree of development that 



326 THfc BASUTOS. 

thought has attained. IF this principle is applied to 
the Bechuanas, we shall find that they easily bear 
comparison with nations that are far from being de- 
signated as savages. 

The Basutos, and, in general, all the natives of South 
Africa, speak their languages in a correct manner. 
They never fail to reprove their children when they 
express themselves badly. Their rules are very precise, 
and the exceptions are rare. 

In concluding this rapid sketch, we will transcribe 
a few verses from the New Testament, which have 
been translated into Sesuto, in order to give the reader 
an idea of the sounds of the language, and of the way 
in which the phrases are formed: — 

GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MARK, 
chap. xiv. 34-38. 

Me a ba yoela a re : Mo'ia oa me o choeroe 
And he to them spake saying : Soul of me it is seized 

hi masoabi ; lulang mo, le lebele. Amorao a ea 
by sadness; abide here, you watch. Then he went 

huyana le bona ; a itiela fatsi ; 

a little further from them; he cast himself on the ground; 

a rdpelct a re : hoba ho ha etsoa, naho e 
he prayed saying: that if it might be done, hour it 

mo fetele morao. A na bolela a re : Abbd 

to him might pass behind, tie spake sayifig: Abbai 



LANGUAGE. 327 

Entate, Mo haofela li ha etsoa hi uena ; tlosa 
Father, things all they can be done by thee ; take away 

senoelo seo, se ee ha morao 'na ; empa, leha hi bolela 
cup this, it go by behind me ; but, though I say 

yualo, ho si he ha etsoa thato eame, ho etsoe ho 
thus, it not be not done will of me, it be done the 

ratoang hi uena. Me a boela ho barutoa 

to be willed by thee. And he returned towards disciples 

ba hae ; a ba fumana ba robetse, me a yoela 
of him ; he then found they were asleep, and he said to 

Petero, a re : Simone, ha u robetse na ? Na 

Peter, saying: Simon, is it that thou sleepest? Is it 

ha ua ha ua lebela naho e le engoe? Lebelang, 
that not thou canst thou watch hour it is one? Watch, 

le rapele, le si hene | lilehong y hobane 

you pray, you not would enter into temptation, because 

mo'ia o mafulufulu; nama ena e butsua. 
spirit it willing ; flesh it it is weak. 



328 



CHAPTER XVII. 

INTELLECTUAL PRODUCTIONS — POETRY. 

If there are in our country men who speak prose with- 
out being aware of the fact, the Basutos are often poets 
unknown to themselves, both in their actions and their 
language. The reader will already have remarked this, 
and therefore he will be inclined to treat us with the 
indulgence we so much need for having dared to head, 
as we have done, this section of a book devoted to the 
history of a people whq^ never knew how to read or 
write. 

During the early part of our sojourn among them 
we often heard them recite, with very dramatic gestures, 
certain pieces, which were not easy of comprehension, 
and which appeared to be distinguished from the ordi- 
nary discourse, by the elevation of the sentiment, 
powerful ellipses, daring metaphors, and very accen- 
tuated rhythm. The natives called these recitations 
praises. We soon discovered that they were real poetical 
effusions, inspired by the emotions of war or of the 
chase. 

The hero of the piece is almost always the author 
of it. On his return from war he cleanses himself in 



INTELLECTUAL PRODUCTIONS — POETRY. 329 

the neighbouring river, and then places his lance and 
his shield in safety in his hut. His friends surround 
him, and beg him to relate his exploits. He recounts 
them in a high-flown manner. He is carried away by 
the ardour of his feelings, and his expressions become 
poetical. The memory of the young takes hold of the 
most striking points : they are repeated to the delighted 
author, who ponders over them, and connects them in 
his mind during his leisure hours. 

These productions offer but little variety, because 
the subject is almost always the same. The poetry of 
the tender passions is still almost unknown among the 
Basutos. 

WAR-SONG OF GOLOANE. 

Goloane is going to fight, 

Ho departs with Letsie ; * 

He runs to the enemy — 

Him against whom they murmur, 

Him whom they will never obey. 

They insult his little red shield, 

And yet it is the old shield 

Of the ox of Tane. 

What ! has not Moshesh just said, 

u Cease to defy Goloane the veteran ? " 

However this may be, there are horses coming. 

Goloane brings back from the battle 

A grey horse with a red one. 

These will return no more to their masters ; 

The ox without horns will not be restored. 

To-day war has broken out 

More fiercely than ever .... 

* Eldest son of Moshesh. 



330 THE BASTJTOS. 

It is the war of Putsani and' the Masetelis,- 

The servant of Mohato.* 

Goloane has hurled a piece of rock — 

He has hit the warrior with the tawny shield ! 

Do you see the cowardly companions of this overthrown warrior 

Standing motionless near the rock 1 

Why can their brother not go, and take away 

The plumes with which they have adorned their heads ? .... 

Goloane, thy praises are like the thick haze 

Which precedes the rain ! 

Thy songs of triumph are heard in the mountains, 

They go down to the valleys, 

Where the enemy knelt before thee ! 

The cowardly warriors ! . . . . They pray ! . . . . 

They beg that food may be given them — " 

They will see who will give them any ! 

Give to our allies, 

To the warriors of Makaba ; 

To those whom we never see come to attack us. 

Goloane returns lame from the strife — 

He returns, and his leg is streaming : 

A torrent of dark blood 

Escapes from the leg of the hero! 

The companion of Bautsoan 

Seizes an heifer by the shoulder ! 

It is Goloane, the son of Makao, 

Descendant of Molise. 

Let no one utter any more insolence ! . . . . 

Eamakamane complains — 

He groans — he says that his heifer 

Has broken his white shoulder ! 

The companion of the brave 

Goloane has contended with Empapang and Kabane. 

The javelin is flung : 

Goloane avoids it skilfully ! 

And the dart of Kabane 

Is buried in the earth f 

* Beloved son of Moshesh. 



INTELLECTUAL PRODUCTIONS — POETRY. 



331 



Goloane is the name of one of the most valiant 
warriors of Moshesh. His brow is adorned with the 
laurels of poetry as well as with those of victory. He 
celebrates in this song two combats from which he 
returned triumphant; one against the Masetelis or 
Griquas, the other against the troops of Moselekatsi. 

It appears that the warriors whom Moshesh placed 
under his command at first refused to obey his autho- 
rity. 

They insult, fyc. — The shield of the Bechuanas is 
made of ox-hide. When the ceremonies connected 
with circumcision are over, the young men receive this 
piece of armour from the hand of their chief. Goloane 
was attached to his little red shield. It reminded him 
of Tane, his old general. He loved it, also, on account 
of its age; and considered it no jesting matter if any 
insult were offered to this favourite weapon of defence, 
the battered condition of which attested so many glorious 
combats. 

Goloane brings bach from the strife ahorse, Sfc. — 
Goloane had to try his strength with the Griquas ; and 
he was fortunate enough to dismount several of them, 
and take possession of their horses. In a previous con- 
test with the same enemy, Moshesh had succeeded in 
taking some of these extraordinary animals; but he 
had restored them to their masters, hoping to induce 
them, by this act of generosity, to leave his people 
unmolested. This had not the slightest effect upon 



332 THE BASUT0S. 

the Griquas; therefore, Goloane declares that the ox 
without horns shall not be restored. 

Do you see the cowards, tyc? — Goloane almost for- 
gets the honour he has acquired in overthrowing the 
warrior with the tawny shield, so indignant is he to 
see the companions of his conquered enemy standing 
motionless at a distance, not daring to come to his help. 
He wishes the wounded man would go and snatch off 
the ornaments they wear on their heads, of which their 
cowardice renders them unworthy. 

The companion .... seizes a heifer, 8fC. — On his 
return from the combat, Goloane, the victor, presents 
himself before his chief. In one hand he holds his arms, 
which are still covered with blood, and with the other he 
leans proudly on the shoulder of the animal that he has 
just taken from his enemy. This is a glorious moment 
for him : he waits in this posture for a look from his chief, 
to reward him for the dangers and fatigues of the war. 

Ramahamane complains, fyc. — Pride is always sati- 
rical. Goloane, full of his own exploits, amuses himself 
at the expense of Ramakamane, who apologises for having 
nothing to offer to his sovereign by saying, that the cow 
he had taken had not only escaped from him, but wounded 
him also. But, poor Ramakamane! why is thy shoulder 
not black f Why wast thou not born in the land of the 
blowers of the fire t Thy white arm might have been 
strong enough to manage a musket ! 



INTELLECTUAL PRODUCTIONS — POETRY. 333 

WAR-SONG OF CUCUTLE. 

I am Cucutle. 

The warriors have passed singing — 

The hymn of battle has passed by me : 

It has passed, despising my childhood, 

And has stopped before the door of Bonkuku. 

I am the black warrior, 

My mother is Boseleso 

I will rush as a lion — 

Like him that devours the virgins 

Near the forests of Fubasekoa ! 

Mapatsa is with me — 

Mapatsa, the son of Tele. 

We set off, singing the song of the trot. 

Ramakoala, my uncle, exclaims, 

" Cucutle, where shall we fight 1 " 

We will fight before the fires of Makose ! 

We arrive ! . . . . 

The warriors of the enemy, ranged in a line, 

Fling their javelins together. 

They fatigue themselves in vain ! 

The father of Moatla rushes into their midst — 

He wounds a man in the arm, 

Before the eyes of his mother, 

Who sees him fall ! 

Ask, Where is the head of the son of Sebegoane ] 

It has rolled to the middle of his native town ! 

I entered victorious into his dwelling, 

And purified myself in the midst of his sheepfold — 

My eye is still surrounded with the clay of the victory! 

The shield of Cucutle has been pierced : 

Those of his enemies are intact, 

For they are the shields of cowards ! 

I am the white thunder 

Which growls after the rain, 

Ready to return to my children. 

I roar : I must have prey. 



334 THE BASUTOS. 

I see flocks and herds escaping 

Across the tufted grass of the plain : 

I take them from the shepherd with the white and yellow shield. 

Go up on the high rocks of Macate, 

See the white cow run into the midst of the herd ; 

Makose will no longer despise my club ! 

The grass grows in his deserted pens ; 

The wind sweeps the thatch 

From his ruined huts ! 

The humming of the gnats is the only noise that is heard 

In his town, once so gay. 

Tired, and dying with thirst, I went to the dwelling of Entele ; 

His wife was churning delicious milk, 

The foam of which was white and frothy, 

Like the saliva of a little child. 

I picked up a piece of a broken pot, 

To drink out of the vessel, 

Which I soon left empty. 

The white cow that I conquered 

Has a black head, 

Her breast is high and open : 

It was the nurse of the son of Matayane. 

I will go and offer it to my prince : 

The name of my chief is Makao — 

And Makao is Makao ! 

I swear it by the striped ox 

Of Mamasike ! 

It has stopped before, fyc. — Military evolutions are 
generally accompanied by singing — it is considered as 
indispensable to the march. The ordinary step, the 
quick step, the run, the attack, all have airs peculiar to 
themselves. In advancing to meet the enemy, the 
troops, as they go through the hamlets of their own 
tribe, stop before the doors of personages renowned for 
their bravery, and execute a Pyrrhic dance. This is an 






INTELLECTUAL PRODUCTIONS — POETRY. 335 

appeal to the valour of those whom they honour in this 
way — an invitation to join them. While the dance is 
being performed the master of the house rushes into the 
midst of the noisy circle, completely armed, and flourish- 
ing his javelin, as if he were already on the battle-field. 
A savage hurrah bursts forth on all sides — the horrible 
shout resounds in the distance like a menace of death. 
All at once there is a profound silence, the line is again 
formed, and the troop files off, singing a grave and 
melancholy air. 

Cucutle — who, though young, is eager for the con- 
test — is indignant that the door of his rival has been 
judged more worthy than his own for the honour of such 
a serenade. 

Like him who devours, fyc. — It was doubtless impos- 
sible to give a more incontestable proof of the ferocity of 
the lion, than by accusing him of devouring the maidens 
of Fubasekoa. Cucutle did not know that this son£ 
would appear in England, and that in this happy country, 
where claws and a mane excite a good deal of interest, 
thanks to their rarity, the king of beasts enjoys a repu- 
tation for generosity which ought to be respected. 

Before the eyes of his mother, Sfc. — This particularity 
is not noticed without design. The author will not 
allow the women of Makose to boast that they have 
never seen the camp of an enemy. 

Surrounded with clay, fyc. — The warrior who kills an 



336 THE BASUTOS. 

enemy, distinguishes himself from his companions by a 
circular mark traced round the right eye with red clay. 
In the times of their simplicity, the Eomans formed 
an obsidional crown of a few blades of grass, which 
they thought worthy of the ambition of the greatest 
generals. 



337 



CHAPTER XVIII. 



ENIGMAS AND TALES. 



Haying given an example of the war-songs, we have 
only now to notice, as intellectual productions, the riddje 
and the tale. 

These two elements enter largely into the education 
of the children. The tale is captivating, and keeps them 
quiet at their mothers' side. The riddle exercises their 
minds, and, as it is usually proposed to several at once, 
it establishes a kind of rivalry among them, which is not 
without its effect in their general development. Imagine 
how a dozen little black foreheads must contract at the 
proposal of a puzzling question like the following: — 
" Do you know what it is which throws itself from 
the top of mountains without being broken?" There 
will be, doubtless, a good deal of whispering and 
scratchings of the head, before a little voice replies, 
" It is the water of a cataract." The interlocutor 
continues : — 

66 There is a thing which has neither legs nor wings, 
and which nevertheless travels very fast, and its pro- 

z 



338 THE BASUTOS. 

gress is not stopped by precipices, rivers, or walls." 
Some one answers, "It is the voice." 

" Name the ten trees, at the tops of which there are 
ten flat rocks ? " Answer, " The fingers, tipped by the 
nails" 

"Do you know r a perpendicular mountain situated 
above a ravine?" Answer, "The nose, placed above 
the mouth." 

"What is that which is continually coming and 
going in the same direction?" Answer, "A door." 

" Do you know a little boy, motionless and dumb, 
who is warmly clothed in the daytime, and left naked at 
night?" Answer, "The peg on which the Basutos 
hang their coverings during the day." 

" Do you know a thing which neither walks on the 
ground, flies in the air, nor swims in the water, and 
which nevertheless walks, ascends, and descends ? " 
Answer, " The spider in its web." 

It would be easy to collect a considerable number of 
riddles of this kind ; but they will, probably, possess no 
further interest to the reader than that of proving that 
these people are not insensible to the pleasure of jeux 
d' esprit 

They have an endless variety of tales, which are for 
the most part very long. They are called churnos, or 
surprises, a title admirably suited to them, whether ap- 
plied to the substance or the form. If I may judge of 
them by those which have come under my observation, 
they are composed of an incoherent mixture of extra- 
ordinary adventures and descriptions of fabulous ani- 



ENIGMAS AND TALES, 339 

mals, of the nature of our harpies and hippogriffs; in 
shorty the grotesque and the monstrous enter largely 
into their composition. Nevertheless., here and there 
we find valuable moral lessons, proving that evil never 
remains unpunished. Perhaps, in compiling a large 
number of these stories, we might even find more than 
one allusion to facts of sacred history. The style is very 
animated, and generally adapted to the subject; in parts 
of a pathetic nature, it requires a vehemence which 
would appear extravagant anywhere but in a country 
where people give expression to all they feel. 

I. The Murder of Maciloniane. 

Two brothers left the hut of their father, one day, 
to go and get rich. The eldest was called Macilo, and 
the youngest Maciloniane. After a few sleeps they 
came to a place where two roads lay before them, one 
leading to the east and the other to the west. The 
road in the direction of the rising sun was covered with 
traces of cattle ; while upon the other nothing was seen 
but innumerable foot-prints of dogs„ Macilo chose the 
latter, while his brother took the opposite direction. 
After a few days, Maciloniane came to a hill which had 
once been inhabited, and was much surprised to find 
there a number of pots turned upside down. It came 
into his head to turn them up again, to see if any 
treasure were hidden beneath them. He had already 
turned up a great many, when he came to a pot of 
immense size. Maciloniane pushed it violently, but 



340 THE BASUTOS. 

the pot remained immovable; the young traveller re- 
doubled his efforts, but without success. Twice he was 
obliged to desist to fasten his girdle, which had broken ; 
the pot seemed to have taken root in the ground. All 
at once it yielded, as if by magic, to a very slight im- 
pulse, and a monstrous man presented himself to the 
view of Maciloniane, who shrunk back with terror. 
" Why dost thou trouble me," demanded this unknown 
being in a hoarse voice, "while I am busy pounding 
my ochre?" Maciloniane looked at him attentively, 
and saw with horror that one of his legs was as large as 
the trunk of a tree, while the other was of the right 
size. " For thy punishment thou art condemned to 
carry me," continued the unknown. At the same in- 
stant he sprang upon the back of the poor boy, who 
tottered, then went on a few steps, and tottered and fell 
again, feeling his strength give way under the weight 
of the horrible monster. Nevertheless, the sight of 
some deer that appeared in the distance suggested to 
him a way of escape. es My father," said he, in a 
trembling voice, "sit down on the ground for a mo- 
ment. I cannot carry thee, for want of something to 
fasten thee to my back. I will go and kill a caama, 
and we will make thongs of its skin." His request 
was granted, and he disappeared with his dogs. After 
having run a great distance, he hid himself at the 
bottom of a cavern. Big-leg, tired of waiting for the 
return of Maciloniane, set out in pursuit of him, care- 
fully following the track of the fugitive in the sand. 
He took one step, saying : " There is the little foot of 



ENIGMAS AND TALES. 341 

Maciloniane, there is the little foot of my child.' 5 He 
took another step, and said : " There is the little foot 
of Maciloniane, there is the little foot of my child." As 
he went on, he constantly repeated the same words, 
which were carried on by the wind. Maciloniane heard 
him coming, he felt the earth tremble under his weight. 
In despair he came out of the cavern, called his dogs, 
and set them on his enemy, saying : " Kill him, devour 
him whole; but leave his great leg for me." The dogs 
obeyed, and their master soon approached the extraor- 
dinary limb without fear. He cut it up with his axe, 
and there came out an immense herd of cows, beautiful 
to behold. There was one among them as white as a 
hill covered with snow. Maciloniane, in a transport of 
joy, drove the cattle before him, and took the road 
leading to his father's hut. 

Macilo, on his side, returned with a pack of dogs, 
the fruit of his expedition. The two brothers met at 
the place where they had separated. The younger, 
considering himself the most fortunate, said to the 
elder, " Take as many of my cattle as thou likest; 
only know that the white cow can belong to no other 
person but myself." Macilo coveted it passionately; 
he asked repeatedly that it might be given him; but 
his entreaties were useless. The travellers slept twice, 
and the third day they came to a spring. " Let us 
stop," said Macilo, " I am devoured with thirst: let 
us dig a deep hole, and turn a little stream of water 
into it, so that it may become cold." When this 
labour was completed he went to the neighbouring 



342 THE BASUTOS. 

mountain to fetch a large, flat stone, which he put 
over the hole to preserve the water from the rays of 
the sun. When the water was cool enough Macilo 
drank; and, seeing his brother leaning over the hole 
to quench his thirst in his turn, seized him by the 
hair, and held his head under water until he was dead. 
This done, he emptied the pit, buried the corpse in it, 
and covered it up with the stone. Being master of all 
the herd, the murderer set off, keeping his eyes fixed 
on the ground. He had hardly taken a few steps 
when a little bird, with a timid and plaintive voice, 
came and perched on the horn of the white cow, and 
said, " Tsiri! tsiri! Macilo has killed Maciloniane, be- 
cause of his white cow, of which he was so fond!" 
The murderer, much surprised, flung a stone, killed 
the bird, and threw it away; but he had no sooner 
resumed his march than he again perceived the little 
singer on the horn of the white cow, and heard it 
say again, " Tsiri ! tsiri ! Macilo has killed Macilo- 
niane, because of his white cow, of which he was so 
fond ! " Another stone was thrown, and the bird killed 
a second time, and crushed with a club till there re- 
mained no vestige of it. At some distance, however, 
it reappeared upon the horn, and again repeated, " Tsiri! 
tsiri! Macilo has killed Maciloniane, because of his 
white cow, of which he was so fond ! " " Sorcerer ! " 
cried the criminal, full of rage, "wilt thou hold thy 
peace ? " He knocked down the bird with a side-blow 
of his stick, lighted a fire, burnt the bird, and threw 
the ashes to the winds. Hoping that the prodigy 



ENIGMAS AND TALES. 343 

would not appear again, Macilo proudly entered his 
native village, and all the inhabitants gathered together 
to look at the rich booty he brought with him. They 
cry to him from all sides, " Where is Maciloniane?" 
He answered, w I do not know : we did not go the 
same way." The curious multitude surround the white 
cow. " Oh, how beautiful she is!" they say; "how 
fine her coat is! — how pure her colour! Happy is 
the man who possesses her!" All at once there is a 
profound silence. A little bird has perched on the horn 
of the animal they are admiring, and it has spoken ! 
"What!" they ask with terror, €t can it have spoken? 
Imposssible! Let us listen again!" " Tsiri! tsiri! 
Macilo has killed Maciloniane, because of his white 
cow, of which he was so fond!" " What! Macilo has 
killed his brother!" The crowd disperse, struck with 
horror, and unable to account for what they have heard 
and seen. During this moment of confusion the little 
bird finds the sister of the victim, and says to her, 
<f I am the heart of Maciloniane ; Macilo has mur- 
dered me: my corpse is near the fountain in the 
desert." 

This tale is one of the best of those which have 
hitherto come to my knowledge. The existence of the 
soul, its immortality, and the vengeance which pursues 
the murderer wherever he goes, are clearly shown here. 
It reminds us, as we read it, of the bird the ancient 
Arabs called manah, and which, as they imagined, 
escaped from the brain at the moment the person ex- 
pired. 



344 



THE BASUTOS. 



II. The Metamorphosis of a Maiden. 

A young girl, having gone into the fields one day, 
gathered a melon, which she intended to carry to her 
mother. She had some admirers, who, knowing that 
she was gone out, seated themselves by the roadside to 
wait for her. When she came near them they praised 
her beauty ; she was pleased with what they said, and 
gave them the melon. Her mother, on being informed 
of what had happened, reproached her with what she 
had done. Instead of keeping silence, the girl raised her 
eyes to heaven, and addressing herself to a favourite star, 
began to sing : " Star, little star ! my friends of Mabiela 
waited for me yonder by the roadside. I took some fruit 
and gave it them. Star, little star ! my mother curses 
me ; she says I have green eyes, as green as those of the 
crocodile ; oh, my star ! my little star ! " 

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343 



THE BASUTOS. 



fortunate child to death, and reduced her body to 
powder. 

The wind of the desert arose and carried away this 
dust, and threw it into a lake. A crocodile collected it, 
and made of it a very beautiful woman, who lived with 
him at the bottom of the water. From time to time she 
appeared on the surface of the lake to call her sister, 
Mosibutsane, and relate to her her misfortunes, by 
singing, in a plaintive voice: — 

" Thy mother, O Mosibutsane, reduced me to dust, 
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III. Kammapa and Litaolane. 

We are told that once all men perished. A prodi- 
gious animal, called Kammapa, devoured them all, large 
and small. It was a horrible beast ; it was such a dis- 
tance from one end of his body to the other, that the 
sharpest eyes could hardly see it all at once. There re- 
mained but one woman on the earth who escaped the fero- 
city of Kammapa, by carefully hiding herself from him. 
This woman conceived, and brought forth a son in an old 
stable. She was very much surprised, on looking closely 
at it, to find its neck adorned with a little necklace of 
divining charms. " As this is the case," said she, " his 
name shall be Litaolane, or the Diviner» Poor child ! at 
what a time is he born ! How will he escape from 
Kammapa? Of what use will his charms be?" As she 
spoke thus, she picked up a little straw to make a bed 
for her infant. On entering the stable again, she was 
struck with surprise and terror ; the child had already 
reached the stature of a full-grown man, and was 
uttering words full of wisdom. He soon went out, and 



348 THE BASUTOS. 

was astonished at the solitude which reigned around 
him. " My mother," said he, " where are the men ? Is 
there no one else but you and myself on the earth ?" 

" My child," replied the woman, trembling, " not 
long ago the valleys and mountains were covered with 
men; but the beast, whose voice makes the rocks 
tremble, has devoured them all."— " Where is this 
beast?" — " There he is, close to us." Litaolane took a 
knife, and, deaf to his mother's entreaties, went to attack 
the devourer of the world. Kammapa opened his 
frightful jaws, and swallowed him up; but the child 
of the woman was not dead ; he entered, armed with his 
knife, into the stomach of the monster, and tore his 
entrails. Kammapa gave a terrible roar, and fell. 
Litaolane immediately set about opening his way out ; 
but the point of his knife made thousands of human 
beings to cry out, who were buried alive with him. 
Voices without number were heard crying to him on 
every side: " Take care, thou art piercing us." He 
contrived, however, to make an opening, by which the 
nations of the earth came out with him from the belly of 
Kammapa. The men delivered from death said, one to 
another : " Who is this who is born of woman, and who 
has never known the sports of childhood ? Whence does 
he come ? He is a monster, and not a man. He cannot 
share with us ; let us cause him to disappear from the 
earth." With these words they dug a deep pit, and 
covered it over at the top with a little turf, and put a 
seat upon it: then a messenger ran to Litaolane, and 
said to him, " The elders of thy people are assembled, 



ENIGMAS AND TALES. 349 

and desire thee to come and sit in the midst of them." 
The child of the woman went, but when he was near 
the seat he cleverly pushed one of his adversaries 
into it, who instantly disappeared for ever. Then the 
men said to each other : " Litaolane is accustomed to 
rest in the sunshine near a heap of rushes. Let us 
hide an armed warrior in the rushes." This plot suc- 
ceeded no better than the former. Litaolane knew 
everything; and his wisdom always confounded the 
malice of his persecutors. Several of them, while 
endeavouring to cast him into a great fire, fell into it 
themselves. One day, when he was hotly pursued, he 
came to the shores of a deep river, and changed himself 
into a stone. His enemy, surprised at not finding him, 
seized the stone, and flung it to the opposite side, saying : 
" That is how I would break his head, if I saw him on 
the other side." The stone turned into a man again; 
and Litaolane smiled fearlessly upon his adversary, who, 
not being able to reach him, gave vent to his fury in 
cries and menacing gestures. 

Can this tale be a confused tradition of the re- 
demption of man wrought out by Jesus Christ? I 
certainly should not venture to affirm that it is so; 
but Kammapa might, without much difficulty, be sup- 
posed to represent Satan. In all ages the imagination 
has delighted to clothe this spirit in the most hideous 
forms, and the evils he has caused have often been 
compared to the ravages of a wild beast. The super- 
natural conception of Litaolane, his birth in a stable, 
his quality of a prophet, his premature wisdom, the 



350 THE BASUTOS. 

victory he gained over Kammapa by becoming his 
victim, and the persecutions he suffered, seem to be so 
many points of resemblance to the history of our Sa- 
viour. I must add that the natives declare themselves 
incapable of giving the explanation of this extraordinary 
legend. 

IV. The Little Hake. 

A woman longed to eat the liver of the niamatsane.* 
Her husband said to her, " Wife, thou art mad ! the 
flesh of the niamatsane is not good to eat; and the 
animal is difficult to catch, for it leaps three sleeps at 
one bound!" The woman persisted, and her husband, 
fearing she would fall ill if he did not satisfy her, went 
out a-hunting. He saw in the distance a herd of 
niamatsanes: the back and the legs of these animals 
were like a live coal. He pursued them for several 
days, and at last succeeded in surprising them as they 
slept in the sunshine. He drew near, cast a powerful 
spell upon them, killed the finest, took out the liver, 
and carried this wished-for morsel to his wife. She 
ate it with great pleasure, but soon afterwards felt her 
inside devoured by a burning fire. Nothing could 
quench her thirst. She ran to the great lake in the 
desert, drank all the water, and then lay stretched on 
the ground, unable to move. The next day the ele- 
phant, the king of the beasts, was informed that his 
lake was dry. He called the hare, and said to him — 

* A fabulous animal. 



ENIGMAS AND TALES. 351 

* Thou, who art a swift runner, go and see who has 
drunk my water." The hare set off as swift as the 
wind, and soon returned to tell the king that a woman 
had drunk his water. The king assembled the animals 
together — the lion, the hyena, the leopard, the rhino- 
ceros, the buffalo, the antelopes — all the animals, great 
and small, came to the council. They ran, they leaped, 
they gambolled about their prince, and made the desert 
tremble. All repeated together: " They have drunk 
the water of the king ! they have drunk the water of 
the king!" The elephant called the hyena, and said 
to him : a Thou, who hast such good teeth, go and 
pierce the stomach of the woman!" The hyena an- 
swered : " No ; thou knowest that I am not accustomed 
to attack people openly." Then the king called the 
lion, and said to him: " Thou, who hast such sharp 
claws, go and tear the stomach of the woman." The 
lion replied: "No; thou knowest that I only injure 
those who attack me." The animals again began to 
run, leap, and sport around their prince. They made 
the desert tremble. All repeated together : " No one 
will go and fetch the water of the king ! The elephant 
then called the ostrich, and said to her : " Thou who 
kickest so violently, go and fetch my water." The 
ostrich set off and came near to where the woman 
was; it turned — leaning on one side, spreading its 
wings to the wind — it turned, and made the dust fly; 
at length it approached the woman, and gave her such a 
violent kick that the water spouted up into the air and 
rushed in torrents into the lake. All the animals again 



352 



THE BASUTOS. 



began to sport around their prince, repeating : » The 
water of the king is found !" They had now slept three 
times without drinking; in the evening they lay down 
near the lake, without daring to touch the water of the 
king. The hare, however, rose in the night and drank ; 
and then took some mud and besmeared the lips and the 
knees of the jerboa that was sleeping at his side. In the 
morning the animals perceived that the water had 
diminished, and exclaimed altogether : " Who has drunk 
the water of the king?" The hare said: "Do you not 
see that it is the jerboa? Its knees are covered with 
mud, because it knelt down to reach the water, and it 
has drunk so much that the mire of the lake has stuck to 
its lips." All the animals arose, and sported around 
their prince, saying: " The jerboa deserves to die, it has 
drunk the water of the king ! " A few days after the 
execution of the jerboa, the hare having made a flute of 
the shin-bone of the victim, began to play it and sing, 
" Tuh ! tuh ! tuh ! see the little flute of the leg of the 
jerboa ! Little hare, how clever thou art, and how silly 
was the jerboa!" 




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ENIGMAS AND TALES. 

.1 J_ 



353 




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The animals heard him, and set out in pursuit of 
him : but he escaped and hid himself. After some time 
he went to the lion and said : u Friend, thou art thin ; 
the animals fear thee, and thou succeedest rarely to kill 
any of them; make an alliance with me, and I will 
provide thee with game." The alliance was formed, and 
following the directions of the hare, the lion surrounded 
a large space of ground with a strong paling, and dug 
a tolerably deep hole in the centre of the enclosure; this 
being done, the hare placed the lion in the hole, and 
covered him up so that only his teeth appeared ; then 
he went and cried in the desert, " Animals, animals ! 
come, I will show you a prodigy — come and see a jaw 
that has grown up in the earth ! " The credulous animals 

A A 



354 THE BASUTOS. 

came from every side. First came the gnus rushing 
into the enclosure, turning on their heels, and repeating 
in chorus, " Oh, wonder ! oh, wonder ! teeth have sprung 
up in the earth ! " Then came the quaggas, a stupid 
race of animals ; and, lastly, the timid antelopes were per- 
suaded to enter. Meanwhile the monkey came, carrying 
his young one on his back; he went straight to the 
hole, took a pointed stick, and gently moving the earth 
away said, " What is this dead body ? Child, hold fast 
to my back — this dead body is still formidable." With 
these words he climbed to the top of the paling, and 
escaped as fast as possible. At the same instant the 
lion came out of the hole, the hare shut the door of the 
enclosure, and all the animals were killed. The friend- 
ship of the hare and the lion did not last long. The latter 
took advantage of his superior strength, and his little 
friend resolved to be revenged. " My father," said he 
to the lion, "we are exposed to the rain and hail — let us 
build a hut" The lion, too lazy to work, left it to the 
hare to do, and the wily runner took his tail, and inter- 
wove it so cleverly into the stakes and reeds of the hut 
that it remained there confined for ever, and the hare 
had the pleasure of seeing his rival die of hunger and 
rage. Then he stripped off his skin, and disguised him- 
self in it. The animals came trembling from all sides 
to bring him presents — they knelt before him, and 
loaded him with honours. The hare became proud, and 
ended by forgetting his disguise, and boasting of his 
tricks. Since then, he was pursued and hunted on 
every side, and detested and cursed by all quadrupeds ; 



ENIGMAS AND TALES. 355 

as soon as he appeared they exclaimed, " There is the 
murderer of the jerboa; the inventor of the pit with the 
teeth ; the cruel servant who caused his master to die of 
hunger ! " In order to enjoy a little repose in his old 
age, the unfortunate creature, the object of universal 
detestation, was reduced to the necessity of cutting off 
one of his ears ; and only after this painful amputation 
could he venture to appear among his fellow-citizens, 
without fear of being recognized. 



THE END. 



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Magazine. 

" This is not an ordinary loose performance, but a very solid, well-digested, and 
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HELP HEAVENWARD : Words of Strength and Heart- 

cheer to Zion's Travellers. By the Rev. Octavius Winslow, D.D. 18mo. 

2*. 6d. cloth. 

" This pleasant little book reads like a prose poem. It is replete with sound, 

searching, practical remark, conveyed in the winning and affectionate spirit, and 

with the luxuriant richness of phraseology by which the author is characterised." 

— Scottish Guardian. 

THE SONG of CHRIST'S FLOCK in the TWENTY- 

THIRD PSALM. By John Stoughton, Author of "Lights of'the World," 
" Spiritual Heroes," &c. Crown 8vo. bs. cloth. 

"Mr. Stoughton's volume may be earnestly and warmly recommended 

Its chaste piety will make it deservedly acceptable to a large class of readers. 
Looked at with the purpose of the writer, we know of no recent volume of religious 
meditation which is likely to be more profitably read or pleasantly remembered. 
It is a cheerful and harmonious rendering of David's celebrated psalm." — Daily 
News. 

+ 

THE DAY of the LORD, the Dissolution of the Earth 

by Fire, and the New Heavens and the New Earth of St. Peter and St. John, 
in connexion with various other Details, Millennial and Post-Millennial. By 
George Ogilvy, Esq. Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d. cloth. 
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THE BLACK SHIP ; and other Allegories and Parables. 

By the Author of " Tales and Sketches of Christian Life," &c. 16mo. 2s. 6& 
cloth. 
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structed with marvellous delicacy and skill — they are full of subtle and delicious 
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book our warmest, most grateful praise ; testifying that it has a spell over the minds 
of children more powerful than any book of the kind we know ; and it leaves the 
most distinct intellectual and moral impressions on the mind. And it is intensely 
wise and religious, without a dull didactic word." — Nonconformist. 



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SERMONS on the PAEABLES of SCRIPTURE, Ad- 

dressed to a Village Congregation. By the Rev. Arthur Roberts, M.A., 
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cloth. 

"An excellent volume of sound, practical instruction, well adapted for family 
reading." — British and Foreign Evangelical Review. 



THE ETERNAL PURPOSE of GOD in CHRIST 

JESUS OUR LORD. Being the Fourth Series of Lectures Preached at the 
Request of the Edinburgh Association for Promoting the Study of Prophecy. 
By the Rev. James Kelly, MA., Author of " The Apocalypse Interpreted in 
the Light of the Day of the Lord," &c. New Edition, Crown 8vo. 4s. cloth. 

" It is one of the freshest, richest, and most thoughtful volumes on prophecy 
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THE LIFE of the REV. RICHARD KNILL, of St. 

Petersburgh. With Selections from his Reminiscences, Journals, and Cor- 
respondence ; and a Review of his Character by the late Rev. John Angell 
James. By Charles M. Birrell. With Portrait. Crown 8vo. 4s. 6d. cloth; 
also, a cheaper edition, 2s. Gd. cloth limp. 

" An excellent biography of an admirable man." — Record. 

" Mr. Knill was no ordinary man, and to write his biography was a duty due 
both to his character and to his services. Mr. Birrell has discharged this work 
with fair ability and good judgment. . . . . . Mr. James's Review is an ela- 
borate, discriminating, and suggestive performance." — Daily News. 



CHRIST and HIS CHURCH in the BOOK of PSALMS. 

By the Rev. Andrew A. Bonar, Author of " Memoirs of M'Cheyne," " Com- 
mentary on Leviticus," &c. Demy 8vo. 10s. fid. cloth. 

" There is a soundness in the work, bscause the writer admits an historical and 
literal meaning, as adapted for general usefulness, while he responds to the voice 
of the churches in all ages by admitting that the Holy Spirit intended to teach all 
ages by the Psalms. The work is a discreet, pious, and learned production, far 
above many similar attempts to illustrate these devout compositions." — Clerical 
Journal 

THE PENITENT'S PRAYER. A Practical Exposition 

of the Fifty-first Psalm. By the Rev. Thomas Alexander, M.A., Chelsea. 
Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d. cloth. 

' " Mr. Alexander gives us a literal translation of his own, very accurate, with an 
analysis and explanation, in which some pithy things are drawn from old divines. 
The body of the exposition follows, and the whole is wound up by a number of 
other metrical translations, making the book all that can be desired for the plea- 
sure and profit of readers who unite taste with religious feeling or desire. Of the 
exposition itself we cannot speak too highly. It is soundly evangelical and deeply 
impressive. The style is peculiarly lucid and terse ; every sentence contains a 
thought, and every line a sentence." — The Patriot. 



WORKS PUBLISHED BY 



SERMONS on the BOOK of JOB. By the late Rev. 

George Wagner, Incumbent of St. Stephen's Church, Brighton. Crown 
Svo. 5*. cloth. 

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criticism ; but there is what is better than either — a plain and forcible exhibition 
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HOME LIGHT; or, The LIFE and LETTERS of 

MARIA CHOWNE, Wife of the Rev. William Marsh, D.U., of Beckenham. 
By her Son, the Rev. W. Tilson Marsh, M.A. of Oriel College, and Incum- 
bent of St. Leonard's-on-Sea. Crown 8vo. 55. cloth. 

" Her letters are the best reflections of her cultivated mind and loving heart, as 
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ST. AUGUSTINE : A Biographical Memoir. By the Rev. 

John Baillie, Author of " Memoir of Adelaide Newton," &c. Small crown 
8vo. 5s. cloth. 

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A MEMOIR of the late ROBERT NESBIT, Missionary 

of the Free Church of Scotland, Bombay. Ky the Rev. J. Murray Mitchell. 
Crown 8vo. 65. cloth. 

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LIFE in the SPIRIT : A Memoir of the Rev. ALEXAN- 
DER ANDERSON, A.M. By the Rev. Norman L. Walker. With Preface 
by Principal Cunningham, D.D. Crown 8vo. 3s. 6cf. cloth. 
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that which embraces, the Atonement We have said enough, we 

think, to convey to our readers some conception of the value and importance of 
Mr. Walker's work. We very earnestly commend it to them for perusal and 
study." — The Witness. 



A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH of SIR H. HAVE- 

LOCK, K.C.B. Compiled from Unpublished Papers, &c. By the Rev. W. 

Brock. Small crown 8vo. 3s. 6d. cloth. 

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which to our minds is very much more characteristic and truthful than any we 

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THE UNSEEN. By William Landels, Minister of 

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MEMOIR and LETTERS of the late THOMAS SED- 

DON, Artist. Edited by his Brother. Crown 8vo. As. 6d. cloth. 

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THE STRUGGLES of a YOUNG ARTIST: Being a 

Memoir of DAVID C. GIBSON. By a Brother Artist. Small crown 8vo. 

3s. Gd. cloth. 
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THE PRECIOUS THINGS of GOD. By Octavius 

Winslow, D.D. Foolscap 8vo. 5s. cloth. 

" This is a volume rich in experimental religion, and intended to be the compa- 
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intended it to be, a book cheering solitude, soothing grief, and dispelling doubt, 
depression, and gloom." — News of the Churches. 



THE TITLES of JEHOVAH: a Series of Lectures 

Preached inPortman Chapel, Baker Street, during Lent, 1858. To which are 
added, Six Lectures on the Christian Race, Preached during Lent, 1857. 
By the Rev. J. W. Reeve, M.A. Small crown 8vo. 5s. cloth. 

• " We have seldom met with sermons that approach more nearly to our ideal of 
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A MEMOIR of CAPTAIN M. M. HAMMOND, late of 

the Rifle Brigade. Crown 8vo. 5s. cloth. Also a Cheaper Edition, Is. 6d. 
cloth limp. 

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such depth of Christian experience, such a just proportion of faith, and clearness 
of spiritual perception, such a tender, loving spirit, that we confess ourselves to be 
as much affected in the perusal of the one as in the other."— Record. 



O WORKS PUBLISHED BY JAMES NISBET AND CO. 

THE PUBLIC SPEAKER, and HOW to MAKE ONE. 

By a Cambridge Man. Crown 8vo. 2s. 6c?. cloth. 

" Preachers cannot fail to be benefited by a candid perusal of this treatise." — 
Clerical Journal. 

" There are a great many very sensible hints in this little book, which young 
men may study with advantage." — Church of England Magazine. 



QUARLES' EMBLEMS. With entirely New Illustra- 

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EXPOSITIONS of the CARTOONS of RAPHAEL. 

By Richard Henry Smith, Jun. Illustrated by Photographs, printed by 
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HYMNS of the CHURCH MILITANT. Compiled by 

the Author of " The Wide, Wide World," &c. 18mo. 6s. cloth antique. 

" It contains about five hundred sacred songs, admirably chosen from the 
writers of almost every age and country. As a gift-book to a Christian friend we 
can hardly imagine anything more appropriate than this." — Baptist Magazine. 



HYMNS of FAITH and HOPE. By Horatius Bonar, 

D.D. Fcap. 8vo. 5s. cloth. 

" There is a great sweetness both of sentiment and of versification in many of 
these devotional hymns." — Evangelical Christendom. 

" A volume of hymns which glow with poetry and piety combined. Many of 
them have found their way to many circles, and are greatly appreciated." — London 
Monthly Review. 

<► 

THE THREE WAKINGS, with HYMNS and SONGS. 

By the Author of " The Voiee of Christian Life in Song," " Tales and 
Sketches of Christian Life," &c. &c. Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d. cloth. 

" All of these poems mark an author of considerable ability, while many of them 
are full of great beauty and feeling." — St. James's Chronicle. 

u j^ vei y delightful volume of poems is that entitled ' The Three Wakings.' 
The pulse of poetic beauty throbs among its pages." — Critic. 

" It will interest and delight the cultivated reader." — Evangelical Magazine. 



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